Woah, talk about a weather change! Compared to last weekend, I think we’ve dropped about 40+ degrees in less than five days. Yep, that’s the Midwest for ya. For once, my plans coincided with the weather patterns—all my fall-outdoorsy adventures happened last weekend when it was so nice out and this past weekend I had full intentions of staying indoors, making use of the apples we picked last weekend.
I had this past Friday off from work, so I spent a brief part of my day dumping the ingredients of this Fall Harvest Chicken & Barley Stew into my Crock Pot and used the rest of my day canning homemade applesauce and making our biweekly batches of granola (let’s just say, our home spelled aaa-maaz-ing). In the eyes of a dietitian who loves to be in the kitchen, this was pretty much a perfect day.
And the best part about finishing up a day in the kitchen? Having time to relax, put up my feet, and enjoy my first mug of something hot for the cold months upon us. It’s the small things in life. (Don’t mind the puzzle in the background of the picture below; a few weeks ago I had the strong desire to put together a puzzle…we’re still working on it—slowly).
We have a Keurig, but since neither Philip nor I drink coffee, we use it for everything but coffee. One of my favorite special treats are the mocha-flavored K-cups. I made it into an even more decadent treat this past Friday by adding a few drops of the Peppermint Mocha flavored SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops I recently received in the mail to try out.
Forget pumpkin spice latte season, I’m ready for the peppermint and chocolate combo! And, oh my goodness, I’m so glad I tried it out, because it totally made my mocha! With just a few quick, easy drops, it got rid of any overpowering coffee flavor (which, of course, I hate since I don’t like coffee) and added a subtle hint of peppermint and sweetness. I can’t wait to try this out with hot chocolate, too. SweetLeaf is a liquid sweetener that has zero calories, but doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners in it—it’s naturally sweetened with the stevia plant. #win
Anyway…back to this Fall Harvest Chicken & Barley Stew, shall we? This soup is so hearty and filling, so nutritious, so easy, and takes just a little bit of chopping before the Crock Pot does the rest of the work for you. This soup uses all the vegetables that are in season right now. For those of you with gardens and have too much produce to know what to do with, this is the soup for you.
I realize I haven’t said much about our garden on here since the initial stages back in June. Don’t worry, the lack of sharing isn’t for lack of produce. We went through stages this summer of having all or nothing and right now we have all the kale we could ever want. Although I was initially the one excited about this new venture into gardening, Philip has been the one to step up to the plate and take care of it for the most part. I blame it on the fact that he can stop by the community garden right after work much better than I can in my professionally-dressed work attire…plus, he does such a good job! :)
With so much kale, I knew this stew was happening. Not to mention, it’s the perfect way to bring in
fall soup season. Seriously guys, I’m this excited that soup weather is here again! I was recently asked by a client to think up some recipes for her…I think 90% of them were soups, stews, or chilis…I hope she was feeling like soups as much as I was!
Ahem, back to this soup. I love that this soup is hearty and filling, yet you don’t feel weighed down afterwards. The fall veggies pack in the nutrients and fiber into this soup, the barley adds even more fiber, and the chicken is a great protein source for this soup. Barley is a great grain for soups and while “pearled barley” usually means less fiber since the outer bran is removed, the barley I used still has 8 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup! If you can, buy barley that isn’t pearled, but if you can’t find it at your grocery store for some reason, pearled barley will do.
With the weather officially feeling like fall, this soup is just what you need to make the bridge from garden-fresh produce to the hearty warmth of stew.
Crock-Pot Fall Harvest Chicken & Barley Stew
Adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats
- 6 to 7 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 small chicken breasts (about 12 oz)
- 3/4 cup regular barley (not quick-cooking)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cups chopped kale
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 large regular potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 3 carrots, sliced
- Add 6 cups chicken broth, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and bay leaves into the crock-pot; stir to combine.
- Layer in chicken breasts, barley, onion, kale, potatoes, and carrots. Do not stir. Press vegetables down to cover with chicken broth (you may need to add another cup or so of chicken broth if it does not cover completely. Cook on low for 5–6 hours or until barley is tender.
- Remove bay leaves then discard. Remove chicken breasts, shred, then return to the soup and stir to combine.