Southwestern Chili Barley Soup

It was a cold, rainy day in New England. As I scanned my refrigerator and pantry, I became inspired to create a new recipe containing what I have on hand. It needed to have a spicy flare to take the chill off a windy day. I saw ground turkey, carrots, zucchini, a can of tomatoes, cilantro, chili powder, barley and chicken stock.

This recipe serves four or two for dinner and two for lunch the next day. Meals like this always taste better on day two because it gives the herbs and other flavors a chance to mingle.

The result was absolutely delish though I will say my husband looked skeptical until he tasted it. The flavors resembled chili but without the beans. To finish it off, I added shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese, some chili pepper flakes, fresh cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt (Chobani of course). Yogurt is the perfect substitute for sour cream, in fact I prefer it.

You could easily make this a vegetarian dish by substituting tofu for the turkey and vegetable stock for the chicken stock. This would be my preference but my husband has never tried tofu. I only recently convinced him to start eating ground turkey.

This recipe used up the rest of my barley and canned tomatoes, so I immediately added those to my whiteboard grocery list. When I’m ready to venture out to the market, I’ll take a photo of the list on my phone. The handy list will keep me focused on what I really need. Of course I will suit up before I head to the market, donning my mask, gloves, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes.


  • 1/2 pound ground turkey

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil

  • 2 carrots, diced

  • 1 zucchini, diced

  • 1 container of low sodium chicken stock (32 oz.)

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 1 can of whole tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup of dry barley

  • 1 container plain yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Sprinkle of red chili flakes


  • Add the oil to a dutch oven. Break up the ground turkey into teaspoon-size chunks. Cook until the turkey is brown on all sides.
  • Add the garlic, celery salt, onion powder, chili powder and carrots to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the squash, chicken broth, tomatoes and barley. Cover and simmer for one hour. About 30 minutes in, break up the tomatoes.
  • After an hour, the barley will be cooked and a nice, deep red broth will form.
  • Serve in shallow soup bowls. Top with cheese, yogurt and chopped cilantro. I like a little heat, so I also add dried red chili flakes.