Lemon Turkey and Barley Soup Recipe

lemon turkey and barley soup | pamela salzman

Maybe you’re in the whirlwind of Thanksgiving preparation madness and can’t focus on the day after quite yet.  But just thinking about this soup relaxes me.  You know how I am rather structured and favoring traditions on Thanksgiving?  I am just as much that way the day after Thanksgiving.  I stay in my pajamas until noon, forgoing the turkey burn spin class that everyone else is at, in favor of a very leisurely breakfast with my family and holiday shopping on my laptop.  But the first thing I do on Friday morning is to start my turkey stock on the stove with last night’s carcasses and fresh aromatic vegetables.  Now when I smell turkey stock, it feels like a day off.  And then I always make some version of a simple turkey soup for dinner.  What’s nice about using the remnants of a roasted bird versus a raw one, is that you don’t have the accumulation of fat to contend with.  So the resulting stock can be used that same day (as opposed to waiting until the next day to remove the fat that has solidified from the top.)

veggie prep

In general, you can take any soup which calls for chicken and chicken stock and replace it with turkey.  Turkey just has a stronger, more distinctive flavor which tastes like….turkey!  But you can take my Chicken and Lime Soup with Avocado and use turkey there, or Italian Wedding Soup with shredded turkey instead of turkey meatballs, and so forth.  Or just make a batch of stock and freeze it for a rainy day.  This soup though, is the perfect antidote to all the richness from Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s a nice, light broth soup with a little tang from fresh lemon juice.  I love that it doesn’t taste like yesterday’s meal.  I personally like eating my leftovers in a transformed way, as opposed to just heating them up and having the same exact meal the next day.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

tender and translucent onions

I had some turkey leftovers from a recent class, so I made this Lemon Turkey and Barley Soup for my family and they all, even Mr. Picky, loved it!  What’s lovely about barley is that it thickens up the longer it sits so I enjoy this soup even more the next day, and so did my kids when I put it in their thermoses for school lunch.  If you are gluten-free, I think any kind of rice would be nice instead of barley.  Be mindful of the cooking times, though.  Brown rice takes 50 minutes and white takes 18.  I asked the kids what they thought of the lemon juice in the soup and they all thought it was the perfect amount — definitely lemony, but not too much.  I personally would have liked a little more lemon, but that’s something that can be added to each individual’s bowl, as well.  It’s a nice, fresh twist on a barley soup.  For a more traditional barley soup, check out this link here and sub turkey stock if you like.

add barley and herbs de provence

Ironically, this year my day after Thanksgiving will be different.  I’ll be waking up before the sun comes up and heading over to KTLA Channel 5 (not in my pajamas) armed with my Thanksgiving leftovers to make some delicious recipes with the anchors that morning.  If you are in LA and are interested in tuning in, my segment is scheduled for 9:45 am!

add spinach

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful holiday.  I always remind myself in the midst of the planning and prep and cooking that this day is about being mindful of all we have to be thankful for — and there’s always, always something.  I am so grateful for all of you and my students, from whom I learn so much and who inspire me every day!

lemon turkey and barley soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 2 reviews
Lemon Turkey and Barley Soup
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon herbs de provence*
  • 8 cups turkey or chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • ¾ cup uncooked barley (not hulled – takes too long) I like Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills, which say “pearled,” but they’re only semi-pearled.
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound leftover turkey meat, shredded or cubed
  • 2- 4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used 4 Tablespoons and thought it was perfect)
  • 5 ounces (about 5 cups, packed) fresh baby spinach leaves
  • Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the herbs de provence and stir.
  3. Add the stock, barley, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook partially covered until the barley is tender, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cooked turkey and simmer until turkey is heated through. If you want the barley to become larger and thicken the soup a little, just simmer another 10-20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper or lemon juice, if needed. Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, if desired.
* Herbs de provence is a blend of dried herbs which often include thyme, oregano, savory, marjoram, rosemary, and other herbs. If you don’t have herbs de provence, feel free to make your own blend of these herbs to use instead.
** You can also substitute 1-2 cups cooked grains and decrease the stock to 6-7 cups. You will just need to warm the grains through and not cook them for the full amount of time.



Artichoke and spinach barley “risotto” recipe

Artichoke and Spinach Barley "Risotto" | Pamela Salzman

Artichoke and Spinach Barley "Risotto" | Pamela Salzman

When I invited some friends over for dinner last Friday night, it seemed like a great idea.  After I finished teaching a class and picking up the kids from school, I would have a few hours to get the house organized and prepare a proper meal before our guests arrived at 6:30.  You know what they say about best laid plans.  My husband didn’t make it home in time to take Mr. Picky to baseball practice.  My girls each needed a ride here and there and then baseball practice was cut short because it was too dark to see the ball.  So my uninterrupted time in the kitchen turned into Pamela’s taxi service.  Has this ever happened to you?

It’s a very good thing that barley risotto was on the menu.  Traditional risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods, but it definitely requires a bit of babysitting.  Maybe I had a hunch that Friday would not be the night to stir a pot of rice on and off for 20 minutes, because I planned for a version of risotto which I could pop in the oven and say “see ya later.”  Barley takes the place of the classic arborio rice in this dish.  Like arborio rice, barley releases that nice starchiness which is essential to make the risotto creamy and rich.  Barley also packs a nice bit of protein and soluble fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels and support digestive health, but is missing from white rice.  Unfortunately, barley does contain gluten and is not appropriate for people who are gluten-intolerant.

This risotto almost parallels nature’s transition from winter to spring.  It is hearty with the barley being a bit nutty and chewy, but the leeks, artichokes and lemon help keep everything tasting light and fresh.  I am a huge fan of leeks and how grassy and mild they taste.  If you don’t have leeks, feel free to use shallots or onions.  I am not embarrassed to admit that I don’t enjoy trimming artichokes, so I keep frozen or water-packed artichoke hearts in the kitchen at all times.  Or adapt your favorite risotto recipe to use barley instead.

There’s something about risotto which is like a warm blanket, encouraging you to slow down and relax for a bit.  After a long week and a busy afternoon of shuttling children to and fro, it was so nice to sit down to a civilized dinner with friends.  It didn’t even matter that the house never got organized.

Artichoke and Spinach Barley "Risotto" | Pamela Salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Artichoke and Spinach Barley "Risotto"
Serves: 6 as a side dish
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts (about 2 medium leeks), washed well
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup barley, semi-pearled or hulled (do NOT rinse)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 ½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 oz. artichoke hearts (frozen or water-packed is fine), quartered
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium ovenproof pot or Dutch oven, melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and sprinkle with sea salt. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the barley and the lemon zest and stir to combine. Add the wine, raise the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add all the stock, the artichokes and 1 teaspoon sea salt (add more to taste if your stock is unsalted), and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover the pot with a lid and transfer it to the oven. Say "see ya later!" Bake for about 1 hour, until the barley is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Remove the pot from the oven and uncover it. If it seems too liquidy, place over low heat and simmer a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid to your liking. I like it it a little looser than a pilaf. Otherwise, stir in the Parmesan, 1 Tablespoon butter, lemon juice, black pepper to taste and the raw spinach. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately. To reheat leftovers, add a little hot water in a saucepan or add enough stock to change it into a soup.





Artichoke and Spinach Barley "Risotto" | Pamela Salzman

Mushroom-barley soup with kale recipe

shiitake mushroom-barley soup with kale

I was craving a hearty, meal-in-a-bowl soup for dinner last night.  Something I could pull together before the kids returned home from school and that I could pack in their thermoses for lunch the next day.  Mushroom-barley soup came to mind in an instant.  I taught this soup in a class back in October and I still haven’t tired of it.  It is filling, tasty and oh-so-good for you.

The recipe is an adaptation of my mother’s beef and barley soup, which was great, but these days we’re limiting our beef consumption and upping the veggies.  To make up for the meat, I use lots of shiitake mushrooms and finish off the soup with a bit of shoyu, a naturally fermented soy sauce which is way  better for you than chemically treated, flash-processed soy sauce.  Of course you can use any mix of mushrooms you like, but I am crazy about shiitakes, not only because they have a lower water content and deeper flavor than button mushrooms, but also because they are tops in immune-boosting compounds.  There’s no better time than flu season to boost your immunity!

This soup is a breeze to put together and easily adaptable to different intolerances.  For the gluten-free folks, I substitute Lundberg’s wild rice blend for the barley and wheat-free tamari for the shoyu.  It’s obviously a different soup, but just as tasty.  Vegetarians and vegans can use vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken or turkey stock.  If you are making your own vegetable stock, add a bunch of mushrooms to it to give the soup more depth.

shiitake mushroom-barley soup with kale

This soup is a hit every time, even with Mr. Picky who last night did what he does best — pick out the stuff he doesn’t want.  This time it was only the mushrooms.  We’re making progress!

shiitake mushroom-barley soup with kale

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mushroom-Barley Soup with Kale
Serves: 6
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ¾ pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean with a damp paper towel and slice thinly
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup barley (or wild rice blend) -- I use Bob's Red Mill Barley. It says "Pearled," but it's really only semi-pearled.
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups stemmed, chopped kale
  • 3 Tablespoons shoyu or wheat-free tamari
  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery to pot and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  2. Place mushrooms in the pot and saute until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add thyme and barley. Stir to coat. Add stock and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes until the barley is tender (if you're using the wild rice blend, you will need to simmer it for 50 minutes.)
  4. Add the kale and shoyu and cook until the kale is wilted, but still bright green, about 8 minutes. Pull out the thyme stems and taste for salt and pepper.