This chicken stew is filled with good-for-you vegetables and whole grains. Perfect for those first cool nights of autumn, this savory and satisfying stew tastes like it simmered for hours on the stovetop. It will actually take you just thirty minutes to have these bowls of goodness, at just 469 calories a serving, on the family supper table, which makes it the perfect meal for busy weeknights. Pieces of bacon add smoky richness to this stew, but you can make the dish even lighter by omitting it. Quick-Cooking Barley looks like oats when uncooked, but it will plump up in the broth for substance and fiber; and the wilted spinach is a great addition. This hearty stew is full of fresh flavors that work with each other to make up a dynamic dish that won’t take you all day to cook, but wins with your crew every time.
Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium until crisp, about 6 minutes, turning once. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Crumble bacon, and set aside.
Add olive oil to drippings in Dutch oven; increase heat to medium-high. Add yellow onion, carrots, and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, kosher salt, and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add chicken and broth to Dutch oven. Cook on medium-high until broth begins to boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in barley, and cook until chicken is cooked through and a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion reads 165°F, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Remove chicken, shred into large pieces, and return to Dutch oven. Add spinach, and stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in parsley; top each serving with crumbled bacon.
Originally published on Southern Living, Quick Chicken and Barley Stew.