Polish Chicken Barley Soup (aka Krupnik)

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I forgot! How hearty and very satisfying Krupnik – Polish Chicken Barley Soup is.

One pot and cooked and ready to serve in one hour. The seared chicken thighs is what gives this soup that delicious, comforting feel. You can very easily adapt Krupnik to your diet preferences and flavor palate. Experimenting is so fun. I encourage you to make the original recipe first. You will love it as is. Guaranteed!

Krupnik in a serving bowls

This Chicken Barley Soup is great for any time of the year. I tend to make it thicker during the winter. In the summer I will add more broth and have very light and satisfying soup. Krupnik is also great if you have left over meat, like shredded chicken. Extra veggies on your counter? Chop them in and add to this soup. Options to customize this soup are endless.

After eating a bowl of Krupnik – Polish Chicken and Barley Soup you wont be hungry for hours. I dare to say you will not crave a dessert either.

Why you will love Polish Barley Soup:

  • One pot dish, done in under an hour
  • Fantastic meal prep and to feed crowd
  • You can very easily adapt it to your diet preferences, vegan or vegetarian; use vegetable broth, add mushrooms, peppers, chickpeas, beans, zucchini or corn 
  • Need to make it gluten free, swap the barley for brown rice or quinoa
  • Very satisfying and comforting
  • Make it creamy by adding splash of heavy whipping cream or sour cream
  • Don’t have chicken use beef, (stew meat or ground beef), sausage or bacon are also great for this soup

Ingredients, Variations and Substitutions

ingredients to make Krupnik

Pearl barley – chewy, nutty grain adds hearty texture and a wholesome touch to the  soup. If you’re gluten-sensitive, ensure you use certified gluten barley. If you’re out of pearl barley, you can use barley grits, hulled barley (aka barley groats), farro, brown rice or quinoa for a similar texture.

Chicken thighs – juicy and flavorful cut that will  infuse the soup with richness and depth. For a leaner option, you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but using chicken breast might sacrifice a bit of flavor. Turkey thighs or legs can be a great alternative. Also great option is ground beef and pork ribs.

Carrots – Sweet and earthy, add color and nutrients to the soup. For a fun twist use multi-colored heirloom carrots. Other root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsley root, and parsnips are great substitutes.

Celery stalks – Crisp and refreshing with a subtle herbal note and crunch. Use the leaves as garnish. Fennel bulbs can offer a similar crunch and a hint of anise flavor.

Onion – foundation of flavor. You can caramelize the onions for added richness and sweetness. Shallots or leeks are great options as well.

Baby potatoes – are optional in this soup but they add creaminess and substance. No need to peel them. Yukon Gold or red potatoes work well as substitutes.

Chicken stock – the liquid gold that ties everything together. It forms the base of the soup and amplifies the savory flavors. Opt for low-sodium stock to control the saltiness. Vegetable stock or even water can be used in a pinch, you might need to adjust seasoning.

Olive oil – is used to cook the chicken thighs. Use extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor. Butter or avocado oil are great alternatives.

Bay leaves, marjoram, dill weed, thyme, allspice berries, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes – create complex aroma of the soup and elevate the flavors. Crushing the allspice berries and peppercorns slightly before adding them releases more flavor. Feel free to adjust the spice level and herb selection to suit your taste preferences.

Chicken seasoning, salt and pepper – essential for seasoning the chicken and ensuring every bite taste perfectly. Season the chicken generously for maximum flavor. 

Fresh parsley – adds a vibrant, herby flavor and a pop of color to the dish. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over the finished soup for a fresh, aromatic finish.

Equipment you will need to make Polish chicken barley soup

  • Heavy bottom pan
  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Measuring cups and spoons
Krupnik in a serving bowls, wooden background

Top tips for making Polish Barley Soup:

Brown the Chicken Thighs – before adding them to the soup, sear the chicken thighs in a hot pan with a bit of oil. This step adds flavor and helps render some fat, enhancing the overall taste of the soup.

Sauté – the onions, carrots, and celery. This will create a rich foundation for the rest of the ingredients.

Deglaze the Pan – after browning the chicken thighs, deglaze the pan with a splash of chicken stock. The brown bits = flavor.

Simmer Slow and Low – gentle simmer will allow the flavors to meld together and develop richness over time.

Skim the Surface – as the soup simmers, periodically skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface. This helps keep the soup clear and clean-tasting.

Adjust Seasoning – taste the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning. It will need salt, pepper

Let it Rest – allow the soup to cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy.

Step by Step – stove top instructions

  • Wash, peel, and dice the carrots, celery and onion. Wash and chop the baby potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Rinse the pearl barley under cold water.
  • Season the chicken thighs with chicken seasoning or salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

  • In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes.

  • Add Remaining Ingredients: Return the chicken thighs to the pot. Add diced potatoes, rinsed pearl barley, bay leaves, marjoram, dill weed, thyme, allspice berries, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Pour in stock, ensuring all ingredients are submerged.

  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the barley and vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Taste the soup and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaves and any herb twigs.
  • Remove the chicken and shred it. Add it back to the soup.

  • Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs, if desired. Serve hot and enjoy the comforting flavors of your homemade Krupnik soup!
  • For a creamier texture, stir in a splash of heavy whipping cream or sour cream just before serving.

Slow cooker instructions:

  • Follow steps 1 and 2 of the main recipe to prepare your ingredients and brown the chicken thighs.
  • Transfer the browned chicken thighs and sautéed vegetables to the slow cooker. 
  • Add the diced potatoes, rinsed barley, bay leaves, marjoram, dill weed, thyme, allspice berries, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and stock to the slow cooker.
  • Cover with the lid and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours, or until the barley and vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Taste the soup and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. – Remove the bay leaves and any herb twigs.
  • Remove and shred the chicken and put it back into the soup
  • Ladle the hot soup into bowls, garnish with fresh herbs if desired, and serve hot.
Krupnik in a serving bowls, wooden background

Instant Pot instructions:

  • Follow steps 1 and 2 of the main recipe to prepare your ingredients and brown the chicken thighs using the sauté function of your Instant Pot.
  • Add the diced vegetables, potatoes, rinsed barley, bay leaves, marjoram, dill weed, thyme, allspice berries, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and stock to the Instant Pot.
  • Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to the sealing position. 
  • Select the manual or pressure cook setting and set the timer for 20 minutes on high pressure.
  • Once the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10-15 minutes before carefully venting any remaining pressure.
  • Taste the soup and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. – Remove the bay leaves and any herb twigs.
  • Remove the chicken and shred it, add it back to the soup or serve on the side

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Storage and reheating

  • Refrigeration:
    • allow the soup to cool completely before storing
    • transfer to an airtight container or resealable freezer bag.
    • label the container with the date for easy identification
    • use within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
  • Freezing:
    • Portion the soup into individual servings into freezer-safe containers.
    • Leave some space at the top of the container or bag to allow for expansion as the soup freezes
    • Seal the container tightly and label it with the date
    • Use within 2-3 months for the best quality and taste.  
  • Reheating:
    • Stovetop: Place previously refrigerated soup in a saucepan and reheat over low to medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even warming. 
    • Microwave: always use microwave -safe container; reheat in short intervals, stirring in between to distribute the heat
    • if the soup has thickened upon reheating you can add a splash of water or broth to adjust the consistency
  • Thawing Frozen Sauce: thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.  
    • once thawed, follow the same reheating instructions as above
    • you can also reheat the frozen soup directly form the freezer. Transfer it to a pot and heat over low to medium heat. Stir occasionally, until heater through.

Krupnik in a serving bowls, wooden background

Krupnik – Polish Chicken and Barley Soup

One pot and one hour, all you need to make this comforting and filling Krupnik. You wont go hungry after having a bowl of this soup.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Polish
Servings 8
Calories 333 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 cooking pot
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 chef's knife
  • 1 vegetable peeler
  • 1 measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2-3 carrots washed, peeled, diced
  • 2-3 celery stalks washed and diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 5-6 small baby potatoes washed and diced
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • fresh thyme few twigs
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Chicken seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Wash, peel, and dice the carrots, wash and dice celery and dice the onion. Wash and chop the baby potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Rinse the pearl barley under cold water.
  • Season the chicken thighs with chicken seasoning or salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  • In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add Remaining Ingredients: Return the chicken thighs to the pot. Add diced potatoes, rinsed barley, bay leaves, marjoram, dill weed, thyme, allspice berries, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Pour in chicken stock, ensuring all ingredients are submerged.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the barley and vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Taste the soup and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaves and any herb twigs.
  • Remove the chicken and shred it. Add it back to the soup or serve it on the side.

Notes

  • Brown the Chicken Thighs – before adding them to the soup. This step adds flavor and helps render some fat, enhancing the overall taste of the soup.
  • Sauté – the onions, carrots, and celery. This will create a rich foundation for the soup.
  • Simmer Slow and Low – gentle simmer will allow the flavors to meld together and develop richness over time.
  • Adjust Seasoning – taste the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning. It will need salt, pepper

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 333kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 17gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.05gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 318mgPotassium: 603mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2633IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 2mg
Keyword barley, barley soup, krupnik, polish barley soup, polish krupnik
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Krupnik in a serving bowls

Krupnik Polish Barley Soup – Conclusion

I told you! You will love this soup. The thickness of barley that soaked up the rich chicken broth will keep your belly full for hours. You may need a nap and possibly even skip the dessert 🙂

Options to make it to your liking are endless. Swap or skip the meat, add various veggies or legumes, make it your own. I encourage you this to make this original recipe first. You will love this Polish Barley Chicken Soup as is – it’s absolutely delicious 🙂

And if you love Polish cuisine, make sure to subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss another recipe!

FAQ about Krupnik Polish Barley Soup

Is Polish Krupnik soup traditionally served as a main dish or a starter?

Krupnik soup is often served as a main dish due to its hearty and satisfying nature. However, it can also be enjoyed as a starter or appetizer in smaller portions.

Can I make Krupnik ahead of time?

Yes, barley soup Krupnik is a great option for meal prep! You can make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze individual portions. Just reheat it gently on the stove or in the microwave before serving. Click HERE to read more about storage and reheating

Can I make Krupnik vegetarian or vegan?

Absolutely! Krupnik is highly adaptable to various dietary preferences. To make it vegetarian or vegan, simply use vegetable broth and omit the chicken thighs. You can also add extra vegetables, beans, lentils or tofu for protein. 

Can I use different grains instead of barley?

Yes, you can experiment with different grains. Quinoa, farro, brown rice, or even pasta can be used as alternatives to barley.

What are some common garnishes for Krupnik?

Common garnishes for Krupnik include freshly chopped parsley, fresh dill, a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, grated Parmesan cheese, or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. 

Can I adjust the spices and seasonings in Krupnik?

Absolutely! Feel free to adjust the amount of red pepper flakes or other spices to suit your taste preferences. You can also omit the spicy ingredients altogether if you prefer a milder flavor. Sometimes I even like to add a drop of soy sauce.

Is Krupnik gluten-free?

By default, Krupnik contains barley, which is not gluten-free. However, you can easily make it gluten-free by swapping the barley for a gluten-free grain such as brown rice or quinoa.

What other vegetables can I use in Krupnik?

Ohh, great question. There are so many options. Ultimately it is up to your liking, but mushrooms, green beans, spinach, kale or crushed tomatoes are great additions to Chicken Barley Soup.

Do I need to cook barley before adding it to soup?

It is not necessary but often recommended. Pre-cooking barley will ensure it will cook evenly in the soup. It will also reach the desired tenderness faster without worry of overcooking the other ingredients. 

Can I use rotisserie chicken in Krupnik?

Yes, it is a convenient and flavorful option that can save you time in the kitchen. 

Can I add mushrooms to Krupnik?

Yes, you can add mushrooms to enhance the soup’s flavor. Incorporating dried mushrooms, especially porcini mushrooms, is a great way to infuse the broth with a rich, umami depth.

Is barley good for me?

Yes. Barley is highly nutritious and offers many health benefits. Barley is rich in fiber and contains nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Is Krupnik healthy?

Yes, if made with wholesome and fresh ingredients this soup is considered a healthy and nutritious meal. Barley, vegetables and lean protein contribute to making Krupnik rich in fiber, nutrient dense and balanced meal.

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