Slow Cooker Turkey and Green Chile Soup with Barley

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If you spent too much time watching the Alabama-Georgia game last night, and neglected to take anything out of the freezer, you, like me, might be wondering what’s for supper Tuesday night.  Slow cooker to the rescue and read on….

This is easy!  Sauté a big skillet full of ground turkey (easily defrosted in microwave or in a pot of water for an hour), then cook up some aromatics in the same pan. Tip both into the slow cooker with the addition of the remaining ingredients and you’ll have the tastiest start for a spicy, filling pot of low-calorie soup and maybe the makings of a few healthy, cash-saving lunches, as well.


No time today? Save this recipe for next weekend’s NFL marathon and you’ll have a tender and toothsome repast just in time for the evening game time on Saturday, for example. A plate of guacamole and fresh vegetables is the perfect starter.  For an extra hungry or larger group, add a pan of my crispy, green onion cornbread and don’t hold the butter since the soup is only 154 calories. Scroll down for the printable cornbread recipe. Leftovers with a drizzle of honey are great for breakfast.

No, I’m not much of a football fan, but this time of year even a baseball lover like me somehow ends up in front of the big screen for game-watching with friends and family.  How many days until Opening Day? 79, guys, 79.

If you can’t wait until that perfect golden day in March, try this to keep you happy in the meantime:

Carrots, Celery, and onion
For a quicker morning start, chop vegetables the night before and store in fridge.


8-10 servings

Basic warming, filling and healthy dinner at its easiest.  Change it up with what’s on hand. No wine? Water or broth will do. Use all carrots instead of carrots, parsnips, and turnips or just onions instead of the leeks and onions mentioned, for instance.  Try frozen peas or corn in place of spinach or grated lemon rind for garnish if cheese isn’t on the menu. Not a green chile fan? Simply skip it. Use the herbs you like! Ground beef can also sub for the turkey.

  • 2 pounds ground, lean turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium parsnips, trimmed and sliced thinly
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped, roasted mild green chiles ( two 4-ounce cans, drained)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley (not quick-cooking)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried or ground rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded fresh spinach or kale — add at end
  • 4-ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated — for garnish
  • Hot sauce–pass at the table

Brown turkey in a heavy skillet until no pink remains.  Drain most of fat, if needed, leaving a little in the pan. Add the the leeks and onion to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until softened.  Add cooked turkey, leeks and onions, along with the remaining ingredients except the spinach, cheese, and hot sauce, (celery – parsley) to a 6-quart slow cooker.  Cook on low 6 hours; add fresh spinach and cook another 30-60 minutes or until barley and all of vegetables are totally tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with a sprinkle of cheese. A bottle of hot sauce at the table will be appreciated by some.

{printable recipe}


COOKING POT NOTES:   If you do this in the Instant Pot (IP) or a slow cooker with sautéing capability, you can sauté the meat and vegetables first right in the pot.  While I didn’t make this in my 6-quart IP, but rather in my 6.5 quart All-Clad Slow Cooker, I think the 8-quart IP might be the better choice for size if you’re going the IP route.

DIETER’S NOTE: Cutting carbs?  Leave out or cut down the barley and/or add a peeled, chopped sweet potato or two. Mayo Clinic’s info on what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet (Hint:  don’t totally skip heart-healthy, energy-providing carbs.)


Nutrition Facts
Servings 10.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 154
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g2 %
Saturated Fat 1 g5 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 59 mg20 %
Sodium 480 mg20 %
Potassium 280 mg8 %
Total Carbohydrate 17 g6 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g13 %
Sugars 3 g 
Protein 17 g34 %
Vitamin A 40 %
Vitamin C 32 %
Calcium 11 %
Iron 14 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.



makes one 9-inch cast iron pan  (can use 9″ baking pan)  
8 servings

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided (1/4 cup for batter and 1 tablespoon to grease pan)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced green onion or to taste (white and green parts)
  • 1 1/4 cups white or yellow stoneground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose white flour
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius).  Place rack at center.

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat a 9″ cast iron skillet (23 Le Creuset) on the stove top over low flame with the tablespoon of remaining butter.   (If using a baking pan, simply grease the pan.)  Tilt and tip skillet from side to side to coat the entire pan with a film of butter.  Remove from heat if butter begins to burn.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients: eggs, milk, green onion, and reserved melted and cooled butter.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix well the dry ingredients (cornmeal – pepper).  Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined.
  5. Pour batter into hot skillet or greased pan. I let the pan sit there a minute or two.  Using hot pad for skillet, carefully move skillet to oven center rack.
  6. Bake about 20 minutes or until bread is just golden brown with crispy edges and a toothpick inserted at center comes out clean. Do not over bake.  Serve hot with honey and butter or plain.   Wrap leftovers carefully and store at room temperature for one-two days or up to one week in the refrigerator.  Hot humid climate: store in fridge from the start. Slice, butter, and broil leftover slices. (Also good cold crumbled in milk for breakfast or a late-night snack.)

{printable recipe for cornbread}


Want to make small changes in 2018 for better health?  Read this from EATING WELL.

Looking for a slow cooker cookbook that will help make you a happy, more capable slow cook? I adore this one: Andrew Schloss’ ART OF THE SLOW COOKER.


Need a blog for slow cooker and IP recipes?  Try Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker (Kalyn Denny)


As Oprah said Sunday night, “Maintain hope for a brighter morning,”


10 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Turkey and Green Chile Soup with Barley

  1. Thanks, Lisa! That’s what I thought, too. So often game food is high calorie and high fat and while it’s tasty and fun sometimes, it’s good to have an alternative. Two bowls of this wouldn’t put a ding in your diet and you’d have nearly all the protein you needed for the day!

  2. Pingback: 25 Scrumptious Dishes to Jump Start Your Healthy January | More Time at the Table

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