Chicken, leek and pearl barley stew with parsley dumplings recipe

By Charlie Clapp

  1. Serves 4-6
  2. Takes 25 minutes to make, 2 hours 10 minutes to cook, plus resting
  3. Rating

This stew is the perfect winter warmer. The herb dumplings and pearl barley make it a meal in itself so that all you need is a big bowl and a spoon.

tried and tested
Chicken, leek and pearl barley stew with parsley dumplings


  1. 1.25-1.4kg organic free-range chicken
  2. 2 celery sticks, sliced
  3. 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  4. 600g carrots, thickly sliced
  5. 3 fresh bay leaves
  6. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 150g pearl barley
  9. 50g butter
  10. 150g dry-cured bacon lardons
  11. 600g leeks, cleaned (see box, p64) and sliced thickly
  12. 3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  13. for the parsley dumplings
  14. 100g self-raising flour
  15. ¼ tsp baking powder
  16. ¼ tsp salt
  17. 50g shredded suet
  18. 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


  1. 1. Put the chicken into a deep, snug-fitting pan. Add the celery, onion, half the carrots, the bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Cover with 2 litres cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, then simmer for 1 hour until the chicken is cooked, turning it halfway through. Lift the chicken onto a plate, cover and set aside to cool slightly. (You can do this a day ahead and leave the chicken to cool in the liquid.)
  2. 2. Strain the cooking liquid into a bowl, then return it to the pan, discarding the veg. Add the pearl barley, bring to a simmer, cover, then cook for 35-40 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin, and tear it into small pieces.
  3. 3. Melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole (at least 4 litre capacity), add the bacon lardons and fry gently for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden. Add the remaining carrots, leeks and thyme and stir together well. Cover and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. 4. Add the pearl barley/stock mixture to the veg along with the chicken. Season and bring back to a simmer.
  5. 5. Meanwhile, for the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Stir in the suet and parsley, then add 75-100ml cold water – just enough to make a soft, sticky dough. Using a spoon, divide the mixture into equal-size balls and drop them on top of the stew. Cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes until the dumplings have puffed up and a skewer inserted into one comes out clean. Serve the stew in deep bowls.

Nutritional info

PER SERVING (BASED ON 6) 556kcals, 23.1g fat (11.3g saturated), 42.3g protein, 44.3g carbs ?(10.8g sugars), 1.6g salt, 8g fibre

Chef's tip

Add any other root veg you like along with the leeks and carrots – we love parsnips or swede.

Wine Recommendation

This merits a premium Rhône white or a nutty Meursault – both are rich styles of white wine with somewhat savoury notes.


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