Chicken and Barley Soup
This spring, I feel as though I’ve been kicked really hard by the forces of nature. The year started on a high note - I had just returned from India with a renewed spirit. I began a new Yoga practice with an intention to create more space around emotions which didn’t serve me. I was eating moong dal often, and focused on nourishing my body wisely. My energy levels were up and pain levels down. I was having a thrill of a ride in, what seemed like an upward climbing rollercoaster. And then came spring.
The transition from winter to summer brings us the spring season, which bears newness, warmth, cool rain, and a spirit of renewal. But springtime can be a difficult transition for our bodies and minds. Within the beauty of every blooming bud, lies the potential for a sneezing fit, runny noses, and aching bodies. We might find it challenging to keep up with our activities as our energy levels sway.
While I was feeling all sorts of awful, knocked down from my “feel good” throne, and going through a loop de loop on that roller coaster ride, my Ayurveda teacher suggested that I add barley to my diet. Spring is a season of wetness and heaviness. Excess water in our environment can encourage excess water in our bodies, and may cause congestion and heaviness in us. Barley is drying and light, and prevents our system from holding on to too much water.
Having never cooked barley before, I thought I would keep it simple. I decided to make my easy chicken soup, seasoned with warming spices. I added cooked barley and veggies to the soup, making it a wholesome and complete meal.
I hope this soup supports you with your Spring transition.
Chicken and Barley Soup
For the Chicken broth:
4-5 chicken legs or bone-in thighs (washed)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp dried thyme
2-3 garlic cloves (optional)
½ inch ginger (sliced)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ lime (juiced)
For the Barley:
¾ cup pearl barley (washed)
3 cups water
½ tsp salt
2 carrots (sliced)
2 cups spinach or swiss chard (chopped) (optional)
Place the chicken (with the skin on) in a large saucepan or stock pot and cover with the water.
Add the salt, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, ginger, and turmeric powder, and turn the heat to medium.
When the water starts to boil, turn the heat to a medium-low and allow to simmer for 2-3 hours. (If cooking for 3 hrs, and the water gets too low, add another cup of water.)
While the broth is cooking, take the washed barley in a medium saucepan. Add the water, salt, carrots, and greens (if using).
Cook the barley over medium heat for about 20-25 min., until the barley is soft and chewy (you don’t want all the water to cook off here). Once done, cover and let it sit in the steam until the broth is ready. The barley will continue to cook in the steam and will absorb any excess water.
When the broth is ready, take the chicken out on a plate. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred the chicken with your hands. The meat will fall apart very easily.
Add the meat back to the broth, along with the cooked barley and vegetables. Mix well and add more salt if needed.
Add the lime juice and allow the soup to come to a quick boil. Turn off the heat and serve hot with a dollop of ghee!
Earth and Water are the elements of Kapha doṣa. In the rainy season of spring, Kapha doṣa can be aggravated .
Barley is drying and light and helps to keep Kapha doṣa in balance.