Roast Chicken Soup with Barley, Parsnips & Cabbage

Monday 8 January 2018

One thing I love most about Winter is that we get to enjoy lovely homemade soups with abandon.  There is no time like the present to be enjoying these beautiful forms of sustenance!

Everything I know about making soup, I learned from my mother.  She made beautiful soups.  As a family we loved her soups and one of the first things we always looked forward after we grew up and went home for a visit, was a hot bowl of one of her homemade soups. 

Mum never skimmed the fat from her soups.  She always told us those little beads of fat floating on top were the vitamins.  I do skim the fat, but I always smile while I am doing it, thinking of all the vitamins  . . . .

One of my favourite memories is from when I was living on my own after my divorce.  I had a rented room in someone else's house. It was January and I had come down with the "man" flu . . .  horrible, soul wrenching, energy draining flu. 

 I was in bed for several days, not caring if I was dead or alive.  There came a knock on the door one day and there stood my mother with a lovely container of her homemade chicken soup.  Nectar of the Gods.  And filled with vitamins, no doubt! 😉  But when you're sick . . .  who cares.

A good homemade soup is one of the most beautiful examples of love you can share with someone you care about . . .it is indeed soup for the soul.

This version I am showing you today starts with a delicious homemade stock which is made from the carcass of a roasted chicken.  I always freeze my roast chicken carcasses specifically for the purpose of making soups.  

You don't always feel like making the soup right away, so freezing them makes good sense.  I just pop them into an empty bread bag, tie it shut and pop it into the freezer.

I also cut up my own chickens to use in dishes and save the backs and necks, also for the purpose of making flavourful stocks.  All get frozen for future use. 

Breasts in one container, legs in another, wings in another, and backs & necks.  Its a cheaper way of having chicken portions to hand, and just makes economic sense to me.

For this delicious soup I combined my own homemade stock, pearl barley, grated parsnips, and cabbage with perfectly delicious results.  You can use ready made stock as well if you want. 

You will still end up with a fabulously tasty soup. Perfect for these cold winter days and for whatever ails you.

*Roast Chicken Soup with Barley, Parsnips and Cabbage*
Serves 4
You will want to use one of the greener varieties of cabbage for this.  Savoy works well, as does Cavolo Nero or even Kale. 

8 cups of chicken stock (preferably homemade if possible)
a generous sprig of thyme
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
140g pearl barley (3/4 cup)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and grated
(if you cannot get parsnips, you may use carrots)
1/2 pound dark green cabbage, shredded and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup roast chicken coarsely shredded
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 medium sized lemon  

Put the chicken stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the spring of thyme, parsley and pearl barley and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook for about forty five minutes.  Add the vegetables,bring to the boil again and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until all of the vegetables and the barley are very soft. Add the chicken and heat through.   Season to taste with salt and black pepper, squeeze the lemon juice over top and serve.  

You can make your own chicken broth quite easily with the carcass of your leftover roast chicken. Homemade is always better than ready made in my opinion.  

Roast Chicken Soup with Barley, Parsnips and Cabbage

*Roast Chicken Broth*
Makes  3 to 4 litres (2 to 3 quarts)
(Good for freezing) 
There is no equal in flavour to homemade chicken broth or stock as it is also called.  Perfect for making soups, risottos, stews and gravies. 

1 to 2 roast chicken carcasses, you can also add a few necks and backs
if you have them. (I buy my chickens whole, and cut the up to use
in recipes. I always have chicken necks and backs in the freezer. This is the
perfect way to use them up)
4 unpeeled cloves of garlic, gently bruised
1 large brown onion, washed, unpeeled and quartered
2 medium carrots, washed, unpeeled and quartered
2 large stocks of celery, washed, with leaves attached, quartered
1 tsp whole black pepper corns, bruised
1 tsp sea salt
a handful of fresh parsley sprigs, and other soft herbs such at thyme,
oregano, savoury, sage or marjoram 

Place the chicken carcasses and any backs or necks you are using into a large saucepan. Add water to cover by several inches.  Add the cut up vegetables and aromatics.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook at a very slow simmer for anywhere from between 3 hours to six hours. (The longer you cook it, the more flavourful it will be.)  Line a colander with some cheese cloth and strain the contents of the pot into a large clean bowl.  Discard any solids left behind.  Chill.  Discard any solid fat which forms on top.  The broth is now ready to use as you desire, or you can break it down into smaller quantities and freeze for future use.

Any leftovers can also be frozen, ready to haul out at the first sign of a sniffle.  Almost as good as a mother's hug when you are feeling a bit under the weather.  Bon Appetit! 


  1. I have about everything you'd need for this, save the cabbage and I'd probably leave that out anyway. We are not friends, cabbage and me. Not that much chicken leftover either, but I can supplement with veggies. It's so cold and I'm fighting the dreaded winter crud so chicken soup might be just the antidote.

    I had to grin when you mentioned the carcass. Rick is a big carcass user and I'm always opening his freezer to discover a turkey carcass or the leftover ham bone and meat! And I'm so glad!

    1. Oh, what would we do if it wasn't for carcass savers like Rick and myself Jeanie! I always have some type of bones in the freezer. You can use Kale if you want, or yes any other vegetable works well! Enjoy! I hope you feel better soon! xo

  2. I think we all make our mother's:) Alone in a room:( Periods of of lives are

    1. Oh, I know Monique. I have had some really sad and lonely pockets in my life. But thankfully my faith has helped me to rise above them all. That memory is especially sweet to me because my mother had gone through a period of time not communicating with me. Long story and you can blame my ex. Thankfully love won through in the long run, and this was a very soul nourishing experience for me in more ways than just the soup. xo


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