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Southwest Chicken Barley Chowder

Mashed squash helps make this chowder creamy but not heavy, and it's a favorite way to get barley on the table. My kids even ask for leftovers for lunch. —Pamela Cleghorn, Campbellsburg, Indiana
  • Total Time
    Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
  • Makes
    8 servings (2-1/2 quarts)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 package (12 ounces) frozen mashed winter squash, thawed (about 1-1/3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Diced avocado and chopped tomatoes, optional


  • In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onion; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or just until onion is tender.
  • Stir in squash, barley, seasonings and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10-12 minutes or until barley is tender.
  • Add beans, corn, cream, salsa and cilantro; heat through, stirring occasionally. If desired, serve with avocado and tomatoes.
    Freeze option: Freeze cooled soup in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little broth or milk if necessary.
Nutrition Facts
1-1/4 cups: 298 calories, 8g fat (3g saturated fat), 46mg cholesterol, 681mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 7g fiber), 20g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 lean meat, 1 fat.

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  • JoanPflieger
    Nov 24, 2018

    This chowder is delicious. I used butternut squash which I had cooked, mashed and frozen. I think the key to this soup being delicious is the addition of the cilantro. I will definitely be making this again.

  • I_Fortuna
    Nov 28, 2017

    I know that taco seasoning is a popular seasoning but I think using fresh spices from the pantry is much better and there are no unwanted additives. It is easy to make your own. I use mild chile powder, cumin, oregano, and sometimes cilantro. For heat, I use Kashmiri mirch, a very hot but delicious ground pepper. We never use garlic but that is also an option for those who like it. Making your own means you can control the amount of each spice or herb to your satisfaction.

  • mkremenak
    Sep 5, 2017

    No comment left

  • vewebber58
    Mar 20, 2017

    Different and tasty. I think I'd increase the taco seasoning next time.

  • ksandjs1
    Feb 2, 2017

    Very good!

  • Teresa
    Jan 5, 2017

    This is delicious!! I forgot to purchase squash and had a bag of frozen cauliflower. I cooked it, ran it in the blender to a mashed-potato consistency, and used that instead. It was amazing! I definitely want to try it with the squash, but if you are in a pinch, the cauliflower works well.

  • curlylis85
    Jan 13, 2016

    I love finding nutritious recipes like this for my family. I made it with whole milk instead of the half-and-half and it was still really tasty. We also really enjoyed the avocado and tomato on top.

  • MoTPC
    Jan 1, 2016

    This was very good! I couldn't find frozen mashed winter squash so I made my own a week before and froze it. I also used less cilantro - just personal taste. Loved the avocado and tomato garnished on top too!

  • maryannet
    Nov 30, 2015

    I like the mashed cooked squash in this soup. I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey in the soup instead of chicken. This chowder would be easy to make vegan.

  • dublinlab
    Nov 29, 2015

    This soup is very healthy, tasty but needs the cilantro. I went to 2 grocery stores in NY and 2 in Ontario a still can't find quick cooking barley. I ended up cooking regular in chicken broth and adding what l thought reasonable.