my favorite fall soup

food with pictures veggie barley soup (12)

I’ve posted a couple other versions of this vegetable barley soup in the past few years, and now I’m posting what I consider the perfected version. I love this soup so much. Since the temperatures dropped this fall I’ve been making it weekly. So easy and delicious. If you’re a soup fan, give it a try! I hope you like it as much as I do.


Vegetable Barley Soup

In a large soup pot, drizzle olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Chop one onion, many stalks of celery, lots of carrots, and a few cloves of garlic.

Put that all in the pan over medium-low heat. Stir often.


food with pictures veggie barley soup (2)


When these veggies are starting to get tender, season with salt, pepper, dried basil, and garlic powder.

Note: I use lots of black pepper. Also, you can omit the garlic powder if you’re not a huge garlic fan.


food with pictures veggie barley soup (5)


Turn the heat to low.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water.


food with pictures veggie barley soup (6)


Add 1 cup barley, half a bag of frozen chopped spinach, and 6-8 ounces of tomato paste.

Stir well.


food with pictures veggie barley soup (3)

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Cover and cook over low heat for a long time. I usually let it cook for well over an hour.

Stir often.

When the barley is tender, it’s ready to serve.

This reheats well, and freezes well too.

Note: If you substitute white or brown rice for the barley, this will be a gluten-free soup.


easy chicken soup

chicken soup

It’s been years since I’ve made regular old chicken soup. I usually make vegetable barley soup or ham and bean soup. But I used to make chicken soup all the time — weekly in the fall and winter. And this week I needed to make chicken soup because my husband was having a medical procedure done (nothing serious) and chicken soup was the requested and recommended food to have on hand for the afternoon of the procedure. When I had the same procedure done just last week, he didn’t make me soup, or pasta …  or anything. He got yelled at by the discharge nurse and then was sent out for takeout from a favorite restaurant of mind. Just to prove I’m a good wife, and a better spouse than he is, I made him homemade chicken soup. Bonus points for me.

Instead of using my standard chicken soup recipe, the one I haven’t touched in a while but made for the first time over 20 years ago, this time I tried some shortcuts. And they worked very well. There is nothing new or unique about this recipe. It’s just basic chicken soup. But you know what? That’s the best kind, in my opinion. Soup like my mother and grandmother used to make. Soup that tastes good alone or with warm from the oven rolls, or with a toasty gooey grilled cheese sandwich, or simply with a wedge of cheese and a crunchy apple. Perfect cold weather comfort food.

I will definitely be making this version of chicken soup more often. So easy and perfect for a cold day, which today is. Hello Winter. Goodbye Fall. Yummy soup.


Easy Chicken Soup

Into a large soup pot pour 32 ounces of chicken broth. Turn the heat to medium.

Season generously with salt and black pepper (and garlic powder, if desired).

Place into the liquid 3 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless), cut into large-ish pieces. Cover.

chicken in stock

While that is cooking, clean and chop 5 stalks of celery. Then peel and thinly slice 6 carrots. Finally, chop one onion.


By the time all the chopping is done, the chicken will be cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.


Add the veggies to the pot.

Add the chicken pieces back to the pot.

Also add 32 ounces of cold water to the pot.

Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until you get a gentle boil.

Add 1/2 – 1 cup barley.  *Note: You can also add 1 cup dried pasta or 1/2 cup uncooked rice. If you choose rice, this meal is gluten free.


Reduce heat to medium/low.

Cover and cook until barley (or pasta or rice) is tender, about one hour, or longer if desired or busy or if you just want your house to smell like delicious homemade soup.

vegetable barley soup

foodwithpictures vegetable barley soup

My mother is well-known for making soup out of just about anything. And then freezing it. It’s great that she can use leftovers and bones and who-knows-what-else to make a delicious and nutritious soup. And it’s fun to play the “what do you think this is supposed to be?” game when a container of such soup comes out of the freezer weeks or months later. But that’s not how I do it.

Throughout the years I’ve tried a few soup recipes and have changed one to be my go-to soup recipe. It started as a chicken pasta Italian-style soup, and after quite a few tweaks, morphed into a vegetable barley soup. It has chicken broth in it, so it’s not vegetarian, but if made with vegetable stock it would be. When my soup-loving mom visits, I substitute rice for the barley, since she must follow a gluten free diet. Both versions are great on their own, and also pair well with a nice chunk of hearty bread, cheese and crackers, a sandwich, or salad and fruit.


Vegetable Barley Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if preferred)

1 can chopped tomatoes, with its juice

4 cups water

1 cup uncooked barley (or 1/2 cup rice, if preferred) *Note: If using rice, the soup is gluten free.

4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups frozen petite green beans

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup frozen chopped spinach

Heat oil in large soup pan; add onion, celery and garlic. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are still crisp, yet tender. Stir in basil, pepper, broth, tomatoes and water; bring to a boil. Add barley (or rice) and carrots. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add frozen vegetables. Cover and simmer at least 45 minutes.

Note: If making this in the summer, use fresh veggies rather than frozen.