Cumin-Spiced Shredded Chicken, Barley, and Vegetable Soup

Chicken and Barley Soup
Leyla Shamayeva, MS, RD
Total Time: 70 min
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 60 min
Servings: 5 (2 cups each)

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

279 calories
2g fat
44g carbs
22g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 (2 cups each)
Amount per serving  
Calories 279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 436mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 44g 16%
Dietary Fiber 9g 32%
Total Sugars 3g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 22g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 134mg 10%
Iron 5mg 28%
Potassium 943mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Here's a heartburn-friendly soup that's under 300 calories per serving but hearty enough that you won't even realize it. Balanced, portion-controlled meals like this are important for those who experience heartburn—the smaller portions prevent abdominal pressure, which in turn prevents reflux. Plus, if you're trying to lose weight as a way to control the condition, the lean protein and filling fiber from the mix of lean meat, hearty whole grains, and fiber-rich legumes in this soup will help you feel full for hours and eat less overall.


  • 2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 cup kale, chopped


  1. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add the chicken breast, cumin, oregano, and salt. Boil, covered, until the chicken breast can easily be pierced through with a fork—about 15 minutes.

  2. When ready, remove the chicken, strain the liquid, and reserve for use as the base for the soup.

  3. Add barley to the strained liquid. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes.

  4. Add the carrots and beans and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the carrots are slightly tender.

  5. Meanwhile, shred the chicken. You can pull it apart using your hands or two forks.

  6. Stir in the chicken, zucchini, and kale. Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

A single serving of this soup offers 22 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, and only 2 grams of fat. The protein comes from both the chicken and the beans, but the majority of the fiber comes from the beans. This recipe is flexible—use your favorite bean or any one you have on hand. All legumes are a filling, heart-healthy food choice and they're easy to incorporate into different dishes, whether it's soups, stews, salads, or sides, so have fun with them!

Similarly, multiple whole grains would hold up well in this recipe. Barley is commonly used in soups but you can opt for wild rice or brown rice instead.

Cooking and Serving Tips

Spiralizing the zucchini adds body and makes for a fun presentation in the final dish. If you don't have a spiralizer you can use a vegetable peeler to make zucchini strips, then slice them into 4 or 5 to resemble spaghetti strands. Alternatively, you can just chop up the zucchini and add it in the same way you would the zucchini noodles.

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