Chicken and pearl barley soup, a healthy alternative by Tom Kerridge

Whether you want to veg out or take comfort,Tom Kerridge offers tasty, healthy alternatives to the January diet – for life.

Chicken and pearl barley soup

Chicken and pearl barley soup


When it’s chilly outside, make a big batch of this warming soup for a comforting supper, or take it to work in a flask for an easy lunch. Dried mushrooms lend lots of flavour here. They are a great store-cupboard ingredient to have on hand for pepping up soups, pasta sauces, stews and casseroles.

Serves 6

670 calories per serving

690 calories with Parmesan


4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

4 celery sticks, diced

2 courgettes, diced

2 leeks, trimmed, well washed and diced

2 litres fresh chicken stock

1 litre water

A bunch of thyme sprigs, tied with string

2 bay leaves

250g pearl barley

40g dried porcini mushrooms

1.5kg free-range whole chicken, spatchcocked or quartered, skin removed

200g cavolo nero, tough stalks removed, chopped roughly

250g frozen peas

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle

30g Parmesan, freshly grated, to serve (optional)


1 Heat the olive oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, courgettes and leeks and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until softened.

2 Pour in the chicken stock and water and add the thyme, bay leaves, pearl barley and dried porcini. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer.

3 Lay the chicken in the casserole, season generously with pepper and simmer gently for 1 hour, turning the chicken over halfway through cooking.

4 Lift the chicken out of the broth on to a plate and allow to cool a little. Remove and discard the thyme and bay leaves from the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred into bite-sized pieces.

5 Bring the broth back to a simmer and stir in the cavolo nero and peas. Cook for 2 minutes, then return the chicken to the soup and stir well. Taste to check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

6 Ladle into warmed bowls and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Best served with grated Parmesan.

To freeze: Allow to cool, then freeze in two-portion containers. Defrost fully in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a saucepan over a medium heat, until hot all the way through

Recipes extracted from Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start: How to Cook Amazing Food at Home. Published by Bloomsbury Absolute at £26

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