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Cook It Kosher

Rishe’s Chunky Chicken-Barley Soup

Rishe’s Chunky Chicken-Barley Soup


I didn’t create this one—it’s my friend Rishe’s signature dish, and it could easily be renamed Best Ever Soup. It certainly has my vote! In fact, pretty much everyone who has tried it raves about it. I knew I had to share the recipe with you, and Rishe graciously agreed to let me make and photograph it with her.

This is not your typical chicken soup, with clear broth and matzah balls. It’s pretty much a meal in a bowl, with lots of chicken, vegetables and barley in every bite, and the barley helps thicken the broth, giving it a real, hearty, full-bodied flavor. Delicious for Shabbat or any weeknight. Oh, and leftovers make fantastic work lunches (if you have access to a microwave).

The recipe below makes a full 12-quart pot of soup (because you will surely be asked for seconds and thirds, and you will want to eat it all week long), but you can easily halve or even quarter it if you want to make less.


  • 2 lb. chicken (you can use white or dark chicken, on the bone or off)
  • 2 large Spanish onions, diced
  • 1 huge (or 2–3 small) zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 5 huge (or 10 small) carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch celery, leaves removed, stalks diced
  • ½ lb. barley
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Water


  1. This recipe is for a 12-qt. pot, but you can easily halve it if you want to make a smaller amount. (It also freezes well.)
  2. Place the chicken, onion, zucchini, carrots, celery, salt and pepper in the pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for two hours.
  3. Add the barley and cook for another 45–60 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken, debone, dice and return to the soup.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. Also freezes well. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite winter soup?

Miriam Szokovski is the author of the historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the editorial team. She shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on’s food blog, Cook It Kosher.
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mimi CA January 4, 2018

I do not understand... cook for 2 hours, then add barley, cook 45-60 min. Why not put all together. save time? Reply

Anonymous January 1, 2018

I love this recipe, thank you for sharing! Reply

Miriam Szokovski January 7, 2016

skimming Hi Marilyn,

Yes, if you are using dark chicken and bones you should definitely skim the soup. If you are using white meat, I find there is no need. Reply

Sharon R St. Paul January 4, 2016

My favorite soup My favorite soup begins as not a soup. I cook fish (usually cod) in coconut milk and Thai curry paste along with whatever vegetables and I feel like putting in the pan - often mushrooms, but often a combination of whatever I have on hand.
Then the leftovers I add to a vegetable broth, add more vegetables if desired, maybe some cubes of potatoes, and it makes a wonderful fish stew. Reply

JeriAnna Idaho January 4, 2016

Gluten free and kosh Keep it kosh and gluten free use a little rice instead of the barley or stick with matza balls that can be made gluten free. Thank you Reply

Sandra Brenner Marblehead, MA January 1, 2018
in response to JeriAnna:

How do you make gluten free matza balls? Matza and matza meal has wheat gluten. Can you purchase kosher for Passover gluten free matza meal and gluten free matza? Reply

mariilyn montreal January 1, 2016

skimming soup When I make my chicken soup, I first bring only the chicken/water to a light boil, and then skim all the shom off..I then add my veggies...I see you don't...does it affect the finished soup whether to skim or not??? Thank you Reply

mimi CA January 4, 2018
in response to mariilyn:

Marilyn, I am with you, skimming is important to have a "clean" looking soup Reply

Miriam Szokovski January 1, 2016

some answers: SHBrenner - I use pearl barley. Regarding the cook time: while the chicken and veg will be cooked within a half hour or so, the longer time allows the flavors to develop and infuse into the broth. I would not cook it for much less.

Kathy - It's not a typo. This recipe makes a lot of soup. I use kosher salt, but if you're using regular table salt you should reduce the amount to 2-3 tbsp. (1/4 cup is 4 tbsp.)

Cheryl - I fill the pot up almost to the top. Reply

Cheryl Benites January 1, 2016

So for the water do you use just enough to cover all veggies and chicken? Reply

Frank Australia January 1, 2016

Chicken soup The chicken soup is awesome. Thank you for the recipe. I have a recipe of my own creation for matzah pancakes also matzah dessert if anyone is interested. It may or may not be considered leaven. Who knows but, you can decide. I use it for Passover. Let me know if you would like to have it. Reply

Susan Maryland January 3, 2018
in response to Frank:

I am interested in your matzoh recipes. How does this work? Do you post them here or e-mail me? (This is my first time here!) Reply

Susan Skokie, Il January 5, 2018
in response to Frank:

I would like your recipes please. Reply

Hugo A L Rohland Somerset West January 1, 2016

Smoked Chicken to your soup Shabbat Shalom dear Miriam,
A perfect soup to me as I love minestrone type soups, and know this. To get to me, go through my stomach, and this is lovely by using smoked chicken portions.

Shalom Reply

Kathy December 31, 2015

Amount of salt Is the 1/4 cup amount a typo? Reply

SHBrenner December 31, 2015

Chunky chicken barley soup What kind of barley do you use in the chunky chicken soup? Pearl barley or regular whole grain barley? Does it really take two hours to cook the chicken and vegetables? Reply

Miriam Szokovski December 30, 2015

cooking time the long cooking time is what gives the soup its great flavor Reply

Cristina Sousa December 29, 2015

Is there any reason why we cook the chicken and vegetables for so long? Reply

Nephew USA December 29, 2015

Yup! Best Soup Ever from the Best Aunt Ever! Good soup and good memories... Reply

Vittoria Hana Nc December 28, 2015

A little variation I make a similar one without zucchini but with mushrooms and potatoes diced. Sometime before serving I mash the vegetables and then I add the purée to the soup! Reply

Tzippy Brooklyn December 27, 2015

Best Soup! This soup is delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Reply

Chavah Kwiatkowska Latvia December 27, 2015

Dear Rishe and Miriam, thanks a lot for the recipe! I will definetely try it.

My favorite winter soups are Miriam's zucchini soup and butternut squash soup. I made them recently, and I didn't expect them to come out so tasty! Thanks again! Reply

Cook It Kosher features recipes from food blogger Miriam Szokovski, as well as guest bloggers and cookbook authors. Let us know if you’d like to contribute!
Miriam SzokovskiMiriam Szokovski is the author of the historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the editorial team. She shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on’s food blog, Cook It Kosher.
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