Use that leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner to make a comforting barley soup. Make broth from the turkey carcass, and herbs that you already have on hand. A light and healthy soup to help you recover from your mashed potato coma. I know you. 

Slow Cooker Turkey Barley Soup from The Food Charlatan

I’m just coming off a grocery store famine. You know, when you haven’t gone shopping in a good two and a half weeks and your husband’s already made not one, but TWO runs for milk. Your 3-year old asks you for apples and bananas and you say no, but you can have raisins! ALL THE RAISINS. And nothing else.

Slow Cooker Turkey Barley Soup from The Food Charlatan

I finally made it today. A leisurely trip, because there were no children doing acrobats on the cart, or taking huge bites of the cheese while I’m not looking (THROUGH THE WRAPPER people).

Yet for some reason, I still couldn’t muster the energy to put away all the groceries when I got home. I rushed to put away all the freezer and refrigerator items, and then I totally checked out.

Slow Cooker Turkey Barley Soup from The Food Charlatan This photo is from a couple months ago. I left my groceries strewn about, as usual, and Truman found a tomato and went for it. The exact same thing happened today. THIEF!!

Slow Cooker Turkey Barley Soup from The Food Charlatan

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I’m excited. Most holidays are all about the food for me anyway. With Thanksgiving I don’t have to make any pretenses. The mashed potatoes/rolls/pies really ARE the reason we are here.

This is a great day-after-Thanksgiving soup. You can make the turkey stock from the carcass in the evening on Thursday (it’s so easy you might forget about it. I put mine on to simmer on low and forgot about it. I was already in bed reading when Eric’s like, did you want the stock to go all night? uhhh no.) Then on Friday use your stock and leftover herbs, carrots, and onions to throw this soup together. Easy peasy. And healthy to boot.

Slow Cooker Turkey Barley Soup from The Food Charlatan

I decided to add barley to this soup instead of noodles or rice. I’m still dreaming about this Beef Barley Soup from a few weeks ago and wanted to try a different version. Barley was a good choice. It balances so well with the carrots and celery.

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
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PS. If you are still looking for Thanksgiving recipe ideas, check out my recent round up for some inspiration, including this Sage-Butter Roasted Turkey.


Turkey Barley Soup

4.88 from 8 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Total: 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
Use that leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner to make a comforting barley soup. Make broth from the turkey carcass, and herbs that you already have on hand. A light and healthy soup to help you recover from your mashed potato coma. I know you. 


  • 11-12 cups turkey stock , from the bones*
  • 3 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 8-9 medium carrots, shredded (about 4 cups total)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and shredded
  • 2-4 cups cooked turkey
  • 1 cup barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
  • sage, fresh, chopped*
  • rosemary, fresh, chopped*
  • parsley, fresh, chopped (for garnish)


  • Add the turkey stock, celery, onions, and thyme to a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low and simmer covered for about a half hour, or until the celery is tender.
  • Use a food processor or cheese grater to shred the carrots and potato. Add to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer, covered for another half hour, or until the carrots are tender.
  • Add the turkey (however much you want) and the rinsed barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low. Simmer for another 45-60 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. (How much you need will really depend on how salty your stock is.)
  • Just before serving, stir in chopped sage and rosemary. (look for the photo below to see how much I used.)

Slow Cooker instructions:

  • Add the turkey stock, celery, onions, thyme, carrots, and potato to a slow cooker. Cook for 4-6 hours on low.
  • Add the turkey, barley, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another hour on low, or until barley is tender.
  • Add fresh sage and rosemary before serving.Top each serving with parsley.


*You can still totally make this soup even if you didn't make stock from your turkey. You can sub good quality chicken stock, or I've even seen Turkey broth at the grocery store lately. Remember, stock is always better, but use what you've got.
*Use whatever fresh herbs you have leftover from Thanksgiving.


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 717mg | Potassium: 1035mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 10421IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 312
Keyword: barley, soup, Turkey
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

Slow Cooker Turkey Barley Soup from The Food Charlatan

Slow Cooker Turkey Barley Soup from The Food Charlatan

I like to chop my celery pretty small so that you can’t taste it. I MEAN wait, to add texture! The potato and carrots help make this soup thick and hearty.


Here’s the Beef Barley Soup that’s got everyone going crazy. It is the 6th most visited recipe on my blog to date, and I posted it SEVEN WEEKS AGO. That’s crazy, people:

Beef Barley Soup from

Some other leftover turkey ideas! You can sub your leftover turkey for most recipes that call for cooked chicken. 

Leftover Turkey Banh Mi:

Leftover Turkey Asian Sandwich (Turkey Banh Mi) from The Food Charlatan

Kale, Chicken (or Turkey!) and White Bean Soup with Parmesan Shavings:

Kale, Chicken & White Bean Soup

One-Skillet Chicken (or Turkey!) Pot PieOne skillet Chicken Pot Pie

More turkey soup from other bloggers!

Turkey Bisque Soup from Your Homebased Mom
Light Turkey and Corn Chowder from Cookin’ Canuck
Skinny Turkey and Wild Rice Soup from The Skinny Fork

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  1. Just made this soup after making the turkey bone stock… I am stuffed. This was incredible and reminded me of thr turkey soup my dad would make. Love the health benefits of bone stock as well! Thanks for these recipes.

  2. A great way to use leftover turkey. Be sure to save the carcass and make stock…it’s relatively easy and really adds to the flavor. Followed directions and it was delicious. I found the taste to be different than other turkey soups in a good way. If you are unfamiliar with barley, it adds a texture similar to wild rice, a tad chewy. Again, a pleasant experience!

    1. Hi Maret! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! I don’t know why we don’t use barley more often, it’s one of my favorite ingredients to add to soup. Thank you so much for reviewing!!

  3. I was intrigued by the turkey barley combo and wanted to use up a lot of turkey meat but I didn’t have carrots on hand (and my husband doesn’t really like them). So instead I added in a large can of organic diced tomatoes—drained and rinsed off so as not to turn the soup too red—to round out the flavor and add some richness. All the proportions and other ingredients I kept the same. It came out utterly delicious. Near the end I decided to make it even healthier and threw in a large bunch of steamed collard greens (leaves only, cut into 1.5″ squares). It was the best turkey soup I’ve ever made. Thank you, I’ll be using this as a base for leftover turkey soup from now on.

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! Great idea using tomatoes. I did the same thing this year and threw some kale in toward the end, it was delicious! Thanks for commenting!

  4. You and I are soul-mates when it comes to food.  My granddaughter says, “Mimi, all you think about is food.”  And I do love to cook just like you do…enthusiastically!!  You could be one of mine.  Never mind that I’m old.  You are adorable and the kids are precious.  Just can’t quit adding your recipes to my master list and have enjoyed so many.  Thank you for sharing.

    1. Foodie soul mates, Gay!! Yesss! That’s so funny about your granddaughter. I’m so glad you are liking the recipes! Thank you so much for telling me! I love hearing from you!

  5. Just wanted you to know I made your green bean casserole and it was delicious, my husband really enjoys eating good food as much as I do. So thank you

  6. Thank you Karen soooo much for this recipe. I have always used rice but love the barley much more and the addition of the potato makes it so yummy and thick. After making my stock from my Christmas turkey yesterday today the soup went into my crockpot and we had a very nice dinner. My family loved it!

  7. Great soup! I always fail at soup and this came out great!!! My husband loved it! This will be my “go to” recipe for turkey left overs from now on.

    1. Yay! I’m glad you liked it Marianne! I actually just made this again today too, using my turkey carcass from Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for coming back to comment! Merry Christmas!

  8. IF I want to cook the soup in a pot and NOT in a slow cooker how long would i have to
    cook the soup? This sounds very like a soup my mom would make after thanksgiving.
    It brings warm memories just thinking about it. I’m off to the store now to buy some celery and fresh herbs :)

      1. Thank you. I was rushing when I looked at the recipe the first time. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I plan on making it tonight. I already have the turkey stock made :)

  9. I can’t take my eyes off of this gorgeous bowl of soup. My mom’s dog would steal tomatoes right off the vine over the summer. He’d even eat the green tomatoes. It was mucho weird. Hey, at least your wee ones like their veggies.

  10. My favorite soup that we make every thanksgiving and whenever we have turkey!
    I add parsnips because I love the sweetness they add. And sweet potatoes not white
    for this girl….beautiful photos and great site> Glad I found you today!!

    1. Ooh love the parsnips idea Lois! I’ve never cooked with parsnips, shhh…I will have to try it out for sure. Thanks for coming by, I’m so glad you stopped to comment!

  11. Wow, this soup looks amazing! Such an awesome way to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers! By the way, my 18 month old daughter is also a little clepto ;)

  12. Going grocery shopping sans kids is like a mini vaca! Woke up sick this morning…had I known that was going to happen, I would have bought the ingredients to make this yesterday!

    1. Oh nooo! That the worst about being sick, you can’t muster energy to make your own get-well soup. I think you should enlist your husband :) feel better soon Amy!

  13. You had me at slow cooker. And I’m a super freaking jealous that your son can just take a bit out of a tomato like nothing. I have to BEG my son to eat something that remotely resembles a veggie. :)

    1. The other day he was helping me put groceries away and grabbed an apple and a tomato. He handed me the apple, then bolted with the tomato. I had to chase him down so that I didn’t end up with tomato remnants all over my couch. haha. I barely even like raw tomatoes, I think he gets it from his dad.

  14. What a cute little tomato thief!! haha that’s too funny!

    And I love the sound of this soup – I’m such a fan of barley and in my crockpot? Double win!

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