This Ultimate Chicken Soup is made with whole grains, a whole head of garlic, and delicious vegetables. Finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a warm piece of bread makes the perfect bowl of soup.

Chicken soup in a bowl.

Ultimate Chicken Soup

When we say this is the ultimate chicken soup, we mean it. This chicken soup has so much flavor it will blow your mind. We use a whole head of garlic (trust us on this one) and simmer the soup until the chicken and barley cook to perfection.

What makes this chicken soup different

  • We use a whole head of garlic.
  • There are no noodles, we use barley instead.
  • It is baked with so many vegetables.
  • This soup is brightened up with lemon juice.
Minced garlic and vegetables in a le cruset.

Featured Ingredients

The ingredients for this flavorful chicken soup are all ingredients we usually have at home. Here are some more details on some of the featured ingredients

Garlic- a whole head of garlic is used in this soup. Use all of your best garlic tricks to peel and mince the garlic before adding it to the soup.

Chicken Breast: Chicken breast is a lean protein that is lower in calories, but high in protein. You can always swap out the breasts for thighs or even omit to make this recipe vegetarian.

Veggies: this chicken soup calls for all the classic chicken soup veggies: carrot, celery, garlic, and onion. Other veggies that would work well in this recipe are potato, sweet potato, parsnip, or squash.

Chicken Broth: while you can make your own homemade chicken broth, we’re keeping things simple with store-bought chicken broth. An option here is to swap your chicken broth out for vegetable broth or even beef broth if that’s what you have.

Barley: we skipped the noodles and used barley for a nice bite. Barley also adds a delicious creaminess to this chicken soup.

Lemon: Not every chicken soup recipe calls for fresh lemon, but let me tell you, this is a game-changer. A bit of citrus goes a long way, and a hint of lemon is wonderful in this soup.

Homemade Chicken Broth

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Homemade Chicken Broth

Make this homemade chicken broth and use it in your favorite soup recipe! This broth is the most flavorful chicken broth on the internet. You can use it in soups, chilis, sauces, and more!

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Raw chicken and other ingredients in the Dutch oven.

Quick Glace at Directions

Make sure to scroll all the way down to the recipe card to get the full ingredient list and written recipe.

  1. Cook down the vegetables in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and barely to the pot, and then submerge the chicken into the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and then turn the heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove the chicken from the pot and shred it with two forks and add it back into the pot along with the chopped kale.
  4. Simmer the soup one last time until the kale is wilted. Serve hot.


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Chicken Noodle Soup

Our classic chicken noodle soup is one of the most popular soup recipes on FFF!

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Chicken soup with shredded chicken and kale added in.

Chicken Soup FAQ

Is homemade chicken soup good for you?

Chicken soup is healthy especially if you make it in your own home. It’s made with lean chicken breast, tons of veggies, warm spices, and your favorite noodle.

What can I add to chicken soup for more flavor?

Homemade chicken soup can often be under-seasoned. Before making any major changes to your soup, try adding 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of kosher soup at a time. Stir and taste.

If that still doesn’t do the trick try adding more lemon juice, a teaspoon of vinegar, or a teaspoon of hot sauce.

Can you put raw chicken in soup to cook?

Yes, you can put the raw chicken into soup. Just be sure to simmer the chicken until cooked completely. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken.


Store chicken soup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Freezing Instructions

Let the chicken soup freeze completely and then transfer the chicken to a freezer-safe container and freeze the soup for up to 3 months

Reheating Instructions: Remove the soup from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Pour the soup into a pot and add 1 cup of chicken broth. Bring this soup to a simmer and enjoy.

freezer soup


How to Freeze Soup & Chili

Learn how to freeze soup and chili with this easy How to Freeze Soup tutorial. We’ll share all of our tips and tricks to perfect freezer soup.

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A bowl of chicken soup.
A bowl of chicken soup.

Ultimate Chicken Soup

Make this flavorful chicken soup for an extra flavorful chicken soup. It is made with a whole head of garlic, vegetables, and lightened up with lemon juice.

Prep:25 minutes

Cook:30 minutes

Total:55 minutes

Fat 9

Carbs 32

Protein 26


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion minced (~1 cup)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (~4 carrots chopped into half moons)
  • 1 large russet potato cut into ½-inch cubes (~1.5 cups)
  • 8 oz. sliced Bella mushrooms
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt separated
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 head garlic minced (~23 garlic cloves)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • cup fresh lemon juice ~2 medium lemons
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups chopped fresh kale deboned and packed


  • Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant, add onion to the pot and season with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.

  • Add the carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to the pot and toss all of the ingredients together. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and toss and cook for another 2 minutes.

  • Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and barley into the pot and mix until combined. Then, submerge the chicken into the broth and add the thyme sprigs. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, stir, and then turn the heat to low. Cover the soup and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

  • Remove the chicken from the pot and carefully shred the chicken and transfer it back into the pot. Add the chopped kale and mix to combine.

  • Let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes to allow the kale to soften.

  • Remove the thyme sprigs from the pot and serve with fresh lemon slices.

Tips & Notes

  • If you don’t have barley, you can use farro. 
  • Feel free to substitute kale for spinach.

Nutrition facts

Calories: 302kcal Carbohydrates: 32g Protein: 26g Fat: 9g Fiber: 7g Sugar: 5g

Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.

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