Turkey-Barley Bean Soup

If your refrigerator is full to over-flowing with Thanksgiving leftovers (aren’t you lucky) and you’ve juuuuust abooooout had your fill of turkey sandwiches and reheated vegetables, it might be time for a big pot of turkey soup.

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Alyce’s Thanksgiving mess.

Maybe you just want to make turkey stock and stir up a basic turkey-noodle this year. In that case, I’ve got you covered; check out this.



Or perhaps you’re thinking Turkey and Dumplings or a Cheesy Turkey-Cauliflower Chowder?

If there’s a bit of ham, too, consider Cheesy Ham and Turkey Chowder!

And when all else fails, there’s always Turkey Minestrone.

Still coming up empty handed? Then it’s probably time for my Turkey-Barley Bean Soup. I wouldn’t bring it up as it’s sort of personal or delicate, but after Thanksgiving, it’s not such a bad idea to go with a high-fiber meal or two. Along with a couple of long walks.

Thank God the table looked good.

And while this soup is full of great veggies, barley, and beans (hm mmm), it also is only mildly suggestive of Thanksgiving flavors with turkey (of course) and its parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme-flavored broth. Should you be wishing for a change, that is.

Chop the veggies in a food processor, if you have one, and give your hands a rest.
HAVE NO TURKEY?  Make my soup with raw, chopped boneless chicken thighs or even diced fresh turkey cutlets.  Sauté them half way done, add the onion, celery, carrots, etc. and follow the basic directions from there.   In fact I made my first version of this recipe just like that when a friend who's cutting back on red meat was coming to lunch. Afterward I thought:  That would be tasty for leftover Thanksgiving turkey. And so it is!!


HAVE COOKED VEGETABLES FROM DINNER TO USE? Chop them and add them for the last 5 minutes or so, making sure you have enough broth to maintain the loose, brothy nature of the soup.

NO BARLEY IN THE HOUSE? Rice can replace barley here or think about stirring in some thin egg noodles or even spaghetti you’ve broken into pieces for the last 10 minutes or so.

However you decide to bring this together, I think you’ll be happy when you try this:

Turkey-Barley Bean Soup

A hearty, healthful soup that checks off all the after-Thanksgiving boxes, this soup can also be made with fresh boneless chicken thighs. Instead of adding the cooked turkey later on, you begin the soup by sautéing a pound to a pound and a half of well-seasoned (salt and peppered) chicken cut into 1-inch pieces in 2 tablespoons olive oil and follow the basic directions from there. You can simplify the soup by using only onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes but I think the wide variety of vegetables creates a soup with greater depth and increased interest and nutrition. Have other cooked, chopped vegetables from dinner? Add for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
6-8 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fennel bulb, diced
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 1 large yellow Spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 EACH: celery stalks and large unpeeled carrots, sliced
  • Handful minced fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 3 large plump cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon each rubbed sage and dried rosemary – or more to taste
  • ½ cup white wine or water/broth
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 cups water (or more as needed)
  • cup pearl barley, well-rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1 EACH: small turnip and parsnip, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 2 cups diced or shredded cooked turkey
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked navy or cannellini beans- or one (15 oz) can of any white beans, drained
  • Dash hot sauce or to taste, optional
  • Fresh croutons or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish, optional


  • SAUTÉ VEGETABLES: Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot and sauté fennel, leeks, onion, celery, carrots, and parsley with a teaspoon of salt and a ½ teaspoon pepper for 10 minutes or so until vegetables are softening. Add garlic, thyme, bay leaf, sage, and rosemary; stir well and cook another minute or two.
  • DEGLAZE THE POT WITH THE WINE: Add the wine to the seasoned vegetables. Stir to bring up any brown bits from the bottom and simmer for a few minutes or until wine is nearly absorbed
  • POUR IN BROTH AND WATER and bring to a boil.
  • ADD BARLEY, CABBAGE, TURNIP, PARNIP, TURKEY, AND BEANS. Taste and adjust seasonings. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes or until everything is tender, adding more broth or water –if needed– to keep the soup quite brothy as it cooks. Add hot sauce, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings one last time.
    Storage: If your cooked turkey is already 2+ days old when you make this soup, you should eat all of it the day you make it or freeze it for up 2 months. (Heating it from frozen and eating the leftovers that day.) If you’ve made it with fresh chicken, it should keep well-covered in the fridge 3-4 days and in the freezer 4-6 months.


CHANGE IT UP:  Use rice in place of the barley or instead add some thin egg noodles or broken spaghetti for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2022. All rights reserved.

CROUTONS: Add some olive oil to a skillet, heat, and briefly brown diced bread on both sides. Place in a paper-towel lined bowl and season with salt and pepper. To know when the oil is ready to cook, add one crouton to the pan before heating. When it begins to sizzle and brown, it’s time to add the rest of the cubes of bread.

If you liked this, you might also like my BLACK FRIDAY BREAKFAST TURKEY STACK


Our youngest daughter, Emily, came down for Thanksgiving, even showing up a day ahead to help bake. She memorized the proportions and method for a pâte brisée (all butter) pie dough and we fooled around with crust crimping options. Then she made the yummy pumpkin pie on her own, saying, “I’m going to teach my roommate how to do this!” Friend and longtime neighbor Mary Pat came over to share our meal, bringing a bottle of Vin Santo as her dinner offering. I’ll attest Thanksgiving pie is lovely with Vin Santo, which I have only had with biscotti. Well, that’s gonna change.

Enjoy the weekend and store your leftovers carefully if you’ve made Thanksgiving dinner this week.

See you in Advent,


Our community is once more broken hearted over a mass shooting late last Saturday night at Club Q in northeastern Colorado Springs. Below, a photo of our communion table at church the next morning:

Colorado Springs Police Department identify the five victims as:

Raymond Green Vance (he/him)

Kelly Loving (she/her)

Daniel Aston (he/him)

Derrick Rump (he/him)

Ashley Paugh (she/ her)   

May their memories be a blessing. May violence end. May love reign. May peace be closer.  

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