Turkey Soup with Lemon and Barley

Turkey soup made with chopped leftover turkey, onions, garlic, barley, herbs, turmeric, cumin, and ginger.

Turkey Soup with Lemon and Barley
Elise Bauer

Like turkey soup but want to change things up a bit this year with your turkey leftovers? Now here's a detour from tradition, a riff on a classic Middle Eastern lemon chicken soup.

The strong flavor of turkey meat holds up beautifully to the acidic lemon and bright turmeric, cumin, and ginger spices. The addition of barley gives the soup body.

We used turkey stock from the carcass of a roast turkey, but you could easily use chicken stock.

Turkey Soup with Lemon and Barley
Elise Bauer

Turkey Soup with Lemon and Barley

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 6 servings

If you are cooking gluten-free, use rice instead of barley.

*Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of zest from a lemon. Use a sharp knife to scrape out and discard any of the white pith that still remains on the inside of the zest strips.


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 large onion, grated or minced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • 6 cups turkey stock or chicken stock

  • Lemon zest strips, from 1 lemon*

  • 1/2 to 1 cup barley (more barley will yield a thicker soup)

  • 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (can sub with more parsley)


  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, spices:

    Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the grated onion and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook another minute, then mix in the turmeric, cumin, ground ginger and a generous pinch of salt.

  2. Add stock, zest, bring to simmer then add barley:

    Pour in the turkey stock and add the strips of lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, then add the barley. Simmer gently until the barley is cooked, about 20-30 minutes.

  3. Add cooked turkey, lemon juice, parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper:

    When the barley is cooked through, add the chopped cooked turkey, lemon juice, parsley and cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently just until the turkey is warmed through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the lemon zest strips before serving.


Another version of Turkey Barley Soup, from Kalyn's Kitchen

Turkey Avgolemono Soup, from The Kitchn

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup, from Brown Eyed Baker

Turkey Soup with Lemon and Barley
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
265 Calories
13g Fat
16g Carbs
20g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 265
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 56mg 19%
Sodium 491mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 8mg 38%
Calcium 33mg 3%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 459mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.