Instant Pot Chicken Barley Soup

by Jackie Miao

Being a spanking new mom to a newborn, I have three main challenges. One is to rest sufficiently; two is managing my time and energy; three is to ensure that I keep my milk supply up for baby’s nutritional needs. For the latter, the name of the game is to breastfeed/pump often, and eat lactogenic foods to help increase milk production. Barley happens to be one of the ingredients said to stimulate prolactin secretion, which increases breast milk in breastfeeding moms.

Here’s a delicious, healthy soup that is easy to whip up in the instant pot (or any pressure cooker). The whole family can enjoy this during the colder months, or when a nourishing soup is desired. P.s. It goes well with a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. If you make this, let me know how you like it in the comments below.

Instant Pot Chicken Barley Soup

An all-organic healthy soup for the whole family. It’s especially great for nursing moms.
4.75 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: soup, lactogenic, milk supply, winter recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Quick release at: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6


  • 6 chicken drumsticks organic
  • 1 yellow onion roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 stalks celery chopped, 1/2 ” pieces
  • 6 medium carrots chopped, 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 medium yellow potatoes peeled, cubed 1″ pieces
  • 1 cup whole barley rinsed
  • 1 liter chicken broth low sodium
  • 1 liter water filtered
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary chopped, dry
  • 1 tsp Celtic sea salt, coarse or season to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley chopped


  • Set your 6 quart instant pot on the sauté function. When the pot is hot, add 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. 
  • Add the chopped onions, garlic, and dried rosemary. Sauté until fragrant and onions are translucent.
  • Add the barley, and continue stir-frying for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the chopped celery, and continue sautéing until fragrant (about 3 minutes).
  • Add the chopped carrots, and continue sautéing to release the carrot oil (about 3 minutes).
  • Add the chicken broth (1 liter), potatoes, and celtic sea salt. Mix the entire pot of ingredients evenly.
  • Then submerge the drumsticks into the broth, and add the water (Add 500 ml at a time. If the water looks like it will go past the maximum line, stop where the line is.)
  • Press the “cancel” button to reset the Instant Pot. Close the lid. (Make sure the valve is set to pressure setting.)
  • Press the “Soup/Broth” button, and set the time to 6 minutes. (It will take about 20 minutes for contents to come up to pressure.)
  • When the pressure cooking stage is complete, let contents sit for another 14 minutes before doing a “Quick Release” on the valve.
  • Once the float is down, open the lid, remove the chicken drumsticks, and separate the meat from the bones. Discard the skin, bones, and add the chicken meat back into the soup. Mix well. 
  • Add any final seasoning touches before serving. Scoop soup up into bowls, and finish with freshly chopped parsley.


Different brands of salt have different saltiness levels and therefore varies in measurements. For low sodium, use 1/2 tsp of celtic sea salt instead of 1. Ready-to-use broths can also vary in saltiness levels from one brand to another, so it is always best to go conservative on the salt, and season at the end to personal preference and taste.
To switch up the flavors, you can substitute the rosemary with thyme, or a soup blend of herbs that work well with chicken, like Bragg Organic Sprinkle Seasoning. Dry herbs can be substituted with fresh herbs of the same variety. Substitute fresh parsley with fresh cilantro/coriander leaves for a different taste.

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Lauren J Merlino November 9, 2019 - 10:02 am

Looks amazing! Can I use frozen chicken breasts with this recipe?

Jackie Miao November 12, 2019 - 11:41 am

If you defrost the chicken, it shouldn’t be a problem though I strongly recommend using dark meat on the bone for maximum flavor. Though chicken breast is “chicken,” you’ll be missing out on the broth flavors from the bones, fat and cartilage. Using chicken breasts definitely makes it a healthier option. Let me know how it turns out. Enjoy the soup. 🙂

Lauren J Merlino November 27, 2019 - 3:43 pm

I went ahead and followed the recipe exactly with fresh drumsticks and it was fanatastic!!! The best soup I’ve ever made… better than Moms matzah balls even (shh). I totally see how the bones really flavor the meat.

Due to histamine intolerance I try not to defrost meat or cook them for lengthy periods of time, which is why the instant pot has been really helpful. I have frozen drumsticks that I’m going to try, and just do a 10min high pressure cook and hope the veggies don’t get too mushy. For most recipes ive tried extending to a natural release works really well when using frozen chicken breast instead of fresh, but since this already incorporates that I’m not too worried. I’ll keep you posted!

Jackie Miao December 7, 2019 - 10:01 am

Awesome! I am so, so glad you enjoyed the recipe. I can’t wait to hear all about what you do next! 🙂


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