It’s that time of year when summer is winding down and kids are back to school. I don’t know if you are like me but I love this time of year. I love my kids and I love spending time with them. As a busy, working mom I need my kids back in school, especially if camp is over. This time of year also means we are heading into the Fall season. Fall happens to be my favorite season! I love this time of year as the leaves start to change color and the air starts to get a little cooler. With a busier schedule, this means I have to do more meal planning and come up with ways to make it easier to get a meal on the table each day. My husband and I like to sit down after the kids are in bed and come up with some meal ideas for the week. What can I say; I think I have turned my husband into a foodie!
I love to spend a Sunday afternoon cooking for the week and maybe even freezing batches of whatever I happen to be making that week. As our schedule gets busier with work, school, after school activities and weekend sports I need to come up with a meal plan ahead of time. I love my crock pot!! I will use my crock pot in the summer but I tend to use it more frequently as the weather gets cooler and as our schedule gets busier. I just love the idea that I can put all my ingredients into this one pot and by dinner time I have a full meal ready to go. It is truly amazing how much one can do with her crock pot. Plus, the smells that go through the house are just amazing! And let’s face it, when the kids get home from school or their activities they are starving. The first thing I hear when they walk through the door each day is, “what’s for dinner tonight mom”.
This time of year also means that it is football season. With 3 boys in my house, there is definitely some football watching going on. I love to see the bonding between my son and my husband as he teaches him everything about the sport. I usually get quizzed later on by my son to see how much I know about the sport! Let me tell you, I don’t know as much as they do!! It is cute when my son tries to teach me a thing or two about it. So, during this season, one of my husband’s favorites in the crock pot is chili. I do a meat chili as well as a chicken chili. It is hardy so it’s a meal on its own. Make sure to have some good bread for dunking! Some of my other favorites in the crock pot are homemade soups, pulled pork, homemade spaghetti sauce w/meatballs and many others that I will share throughout my blog.
This recipe for Crockpot Chicken & Barley Soup is such a great recipe. It is hardy so you can enjoy a bowl as a meal. It is great for using up all those veggies in your fridge too.
Crockpot Chicken & Barley Soup
1 Can (10 ¾ oz.) Condensed Mushroom Soup (you can use either Golden Mushroom soup or cream of mushroom soup)
1 Can (10 ½ oz.) Condensed Chicken Broth
1 Can (14.5 oz.) Fire Roasted Tomatoes
2 Soup cans Water
½ cup uncooked medium pearl barley
1 Large Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons, Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon, Butter
6-8 mushrooms, chopped. *I like to use baby Bella Mushrooms
4-5 Celery Stalks, Chopped
1-2 large carrots or handful of small ones, chopped
Boneless Chicken Breasts, about 2-3 breasts depending on how big they are
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon of minced (jar) garlic
1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons, Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Cup+ grated Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan Cheese Rind *These are great to keep in freezer to add to soups & crock pot recipes.
Turn crockpot on; cook on high heat for about 4-5 hours or 6-7 hours on low heat. Add can of soup, broth, tomatoes, water and barley to crockpot and stir. Chop onion & then sauté on stove in oil and butter. Chop mushrooms and add to onion; stir and continue cooking. Chop celery and carrot and add to onion mixture. Season with salt/pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes and then add to your crockpot.
Dice chicken, sauté on stove in 1 tablespoon of oil over High heat. Add Italian Seasoning, minced garlic, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Do not cook all the way; just cook the outside of the chicken (chicken will start to turn white), add to crockpot. Add Parmesan Cheese rind to crockpot (this rind will slowly melt into your soup to make it nice and creamy). In the last hour of cooking, chop parsley and add 3 tablespoons to crockpot and stir; reserve the rest for garnish. Add 1 cup of parmesan cheese to crockpot and stir. You should have some leftover parmesan cheese for garnish.
Serve in bowls and sprinkle some parmesan cheese and parsley on top.
This soup freezes really well. It is so nice to have batches of this soup that can be easily thawed out on a cool night. It reheats very nicely. Serve with a nice slice of bread for dunking!