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Turkey Barley Soup Recipe

This is one of the cheapest soups you can make!  Using the leftover turkey carcass from your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner to make turkey stock, and filling the soup with torn up turkey scraps makes this very affordable.  Add in some really low cost ingredients like barley, carrots, celery and peas and you have a hearty winter soup recipe that will help your budget last until you pay off the Christmas debt!I’m joking about Christmas debt.  Eric and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University over the past few months.  We were able to start it without any debt (except for our mortgage) and have built up a two month emergency fund, woo-hoo!  Breaking water heaters, furnaces, and family emergencies have definitely put a dent in our emergency fund, but we’re building it back up.

December has been a busy month for us, and we’re looking forward to the New Year.  Eric’s sister Heather has her birthday in December, and we had a ton of fun celebrating with her by playing whirlyball.  It’s basically a combination of bumper cars, basketball and that wiffle ball scoop game.

The night ended rather abruptly when my car slammed into Eric’s dad’s car and his knee got rammed into the steering bar.  Unfortunately the pain caused him to pass out and stop breathing for about half a minute.  It was scary in the moment, but our first aid training kicked in and he was conscious and breathing when the paramedics arrived.  We’re so glad he’s alright, I felt like a lousy daughter in law for a few moments there!  I’d highly recommend whirlyball if you have it in your area, just watch your knees 🙂

I have been putting my new camera to good use this December.  Although I only have one fixed lens (that means no zooming), it’s been great for learning to photograph events.  In addition to lots of holiday parties, and a holiday special of the Healthy Cooking on a Tight Budget Program, we had two family weddings this month.  My cousin Josh got married at the beginning of the month.

His lovely bride Whitney has an adorable son who was the hit of the wedding.  I loved that all three of them did the sand ceremony together.

Their cakes (yes of course I took food photos!) was a gorgeous winter confection that had everyone oohing and ahhing.

The flower girl was absolutely adorable in her santa hat that pushed her ears down into cute little elf ears.

Eric’s cousin Camille got married last night and it was another gorgeous December wedding.  I loved that both weddings had black, red and white as their colors.

Rather than a santa hat, this flower girl had feathery angel wings and dashed down the aisle.  I think the romance of the ceremony got to the flower girl…

…she met a little boy at the reception and they spent about 20 minutes holding hands and being as cute as can be!

Camille and Andrew also had a gorgeous cake, covered in shockingly deep black frosting.  They showed off their funny side getting ready to cut the cake…

…but kept it sweet in feeding the cake to each other.

There was dancing at the reception, which those who know me know I can never pass up.  As much as I love dancing, I love dancing with Eric even more!  We took a short break from rug cutting to make sure we got a photo together.

We also did the photography and shot video for our church’s Christmas Eve services.  The production was so impressive and life changing for several people.

Christmas Day we headed to my parents’ house for dinner, presents and game playing.  We’ve gotten my family addicted to telephone pictionary.  Several family members got fedoras for Christmas so we all put one on for our holiday family photo.

Then we headed out the door, looking quite dapper, to drive through the Spanaway light display.  Each year a park is turned into a Christmas light wonderland and you can drive through to enjoy the show.

We had fun shouting “Merry Christmas” to the children we passed who would giggle and shout it back.  The additions to the lights this year were some really cute dinosaurs.  As a Dianasaur I really appreciated them!

Alright, enough of the month in review, let’s talk about soup!  This turkey barley soup is a tradition in my family.  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas my mom would make stock with the turkey carcass and then use the stock to make this soup.  We’d gleefully gobble it down for the next week, knowing that as rich as it tasted, it was filled with healthy ingredients.

This year my parents passed the soup torch on to me, and I gladly carry on the tradition.  My mom has made this soup a few different ways.  My dad prefers it with brown rice instead of barley.  But I can get barley for only 89 cents a pound in the bulk food section of the grocery store, and love that cost saving.  Barley is also a very healthy grain.  One cup of cooked barley has under 200 calories and less than one gram of fat.  But it’s packed with protein and fiber as well as a great source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Iron and Manganese.

In addition to the barley, we add carrots, celery and frozen peas, all very affordable vegetables with benefits to your health and your food budget.  My mom would sometimes make Bisquick dumplings to go on top of the soup.  While this is delicious, it adds to the cost and makes the soup a little less healthy so I choose to skip the dumplings.  If you want to add them, make sure you have plenty of turkey stock in the pot, otherwise they soak it all up.

This soup does take about an hour and a half for the barley to get nice and tender, but it’s very little work to make.  I make the turkey stock the day we cook the turkey and divide it into six cup portions in plastic containers.  The same day I make a container of torn up turkey meat and put them all in the fridge.

The next day I put 12 cups of stock and the barley into a pot and let it simmer for an hour or so.  Then I add the onion and carrot because they can cook longer than the celery or peas.  The only real work is chopping the carrots and celery.

I hope you all have a wonderful start to your 2011, thank you so much for your support in 2010.  Each and every one of you have made Dianasaur Dishes a special place for me and I’m so thankful for you.

Turkey Barley Soup Recipe

serves 10-12


12 cups turkey stock
2 cups uncooked pearl barley
1 onion, chopped(or 8 chopped green onions)
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 1/2 TBS kosher salt (if using homemade stock w/out salt)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup torn turkey
1 cup frozen peas


Pour the stock into a pot and bring to a boil (if using frozen stock you can just put the blocks of stock in the pot).  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the pearl barley.  Simmer on medium heat for one hour.

After an hour add the chopped carrot, onion, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper and simmer another 20 minutes.  Add the chopped celery and turkey.  After 10 minutes add the frozen peas.  Once soup returns to a low boil, test some barley and carrot.  The barley should be chewy but not crunchy and the carrots should be easily pierced with a fork.  Total cook time is around 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Approximate cost/serving:  This is SO cheap!  It costs around $6 to make the entire batch.  At 12 servings the cost is just 50 cents a serving!

Gluten Free: Barley is NOT gluten free.  To make this gluten free go with my dad’s favorite method of brown rice instead.  You can use the same amount but your cook time will be a little shorter than with barley.

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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.

6 thoughts on “Turkey Barley Soup Recipe”

  1. howdy! just wanted to let you know i really enjoy your blog — got your link from a friend i made while living in WA (Alisha) and have since made several of your recipes and have my freezer stocked with vegetable stock! 🙂 keep blogging!


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