Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup

4.88 from 8 votes

A warm and comforting soup that tastes light and refreshing.

Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup

Most people turn to soup in the middle of winter, when the weather is cold and a warm bowl of soup is just what the doctor ordered. Soups like this Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup are perfectly warm and comforting on a cold day, but they’re also perfect for warmer weather meals. The combination of the turkey, vegetables, tomato broth, and chewy barley creates a light-but-filling combination of flavors. And since each serving has less than 300 calories, it fits into most diet and wellness plans!

This Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup has so many fantastic flavors. The sausage is flavorful and rich, while the tomato-forward broth is sweet and acidic. And while kale can sometimes taste bitter, its earthy edge is perfectly tamed amongst the other flavors. This dish is actually a really good introduction to kale if you’re not used to eating it!

Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup

There are two steps that you’re going to want to watch out for in this recipe. The first is browning the turkey sausage. Cooking the sausage on the stovetop may take an extra step (and dirty up a pot), but it’s totally worth it. It not only adds caramelized flavor to the meat, creating a beautiful depth of flavor, but it also breaks up the sausage. If you tossed the whole pound of turkey sausage into the Crock Pot and let it simmer away in the sauce, it would end up cooking as a brick! It wouldn’t taste very good, and the soup would also be harder to eat.

The other step is the addition of tomato paste. To take full advantage of its thickening power, we add it after the soup has simmered away on low for 4 to 6 hours. You could add it in the beginning, but it will lose its ability to thicken the soup over time. Adding it at the end ensures this Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup gets a stew-like consistency.

Why We Love Barley

Unlike other grains, barley freezes really well. Freezing soup with rice or pasta usually turns into a mushy mess when you thaw it out because the grains soak up excess liquid and over-expand as they go. Barley, on the other hand, soaks up all the liquid it needs during the 4 to 6 hour cook time. Once it’s fully cooked, it won’t take on extra liquid. So feel free to freeze this recipe if you have extras!

The other great thing about barley is it’s a whole grain. This soup does have 29 grams of carbohydrates, but they’re complex carbohydrates. Unlike simple carbs that are digested quickly by the body, these whole grains keep you feeling fuller for longer.

We can’t wait to hear what you think about this Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup. Let us know in the comments!

4.88 from 8 votes

Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup

The filling ingredients in this soup make for the perfect cold weather meal. Sausage, kale, barley and broth come together for a delicious meal you'll love.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 40 minutes
Yield 6
Serving Size
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American


  • 1 pound turkey sausage
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 cup carrot peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 15 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups kale roughly chopped


  • In a skillet on medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Once cooked through, drain off any excess liquid and place in a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, except tomato paste and kale, to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until the barley is tender. Stir in the tomato paste and kale. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or just until the kale has wilted. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 1389mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 7008IU | Vitamin C: 55mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 2mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 2
Keywords Slow Cooker

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Chef Nichole

Nichole has a culinary degree from Great Lakes Culinary Institute and has worked in the culinary industry for 10 years. She also has the knowledge to write recipes using the most nutritious, fresh, and balanced ingredients. Nichole enjoys creating healthy and tasty recipes anyone can prepare, no matter their cooking skill level.

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  1. This is a great soup. I used ground turkey and then added spices of my choice to give a better flavor since I did not use sausage.I also used kale.My husband loved this soup.5 stars

    1. That’s great, Joanne! Thanks so much for the feedback. We’re happy to hear that you both enjoyed it 🙂

  2. I have a dumb question–when you recommend turkey sausage, do you mean hot or mild Italian turkey sausage? I like to follow recipes pretty much verbatim the first time through, just to be safe. Thanks!

  3. This was awesome! I didn’t end up making it in the slow cooker (lost track of the time) so I just cooked everything in the order I would do for a non slow cooker soup. Let it cook for an hour and a half so so good. I could not find the turkey sausage for the life of me so I went with chicken sausage – a bird is a bird, right?5 stars

  4. Isn’t pearl barley more processed than pot barley and therefore less nutritious? Or are you just going with the cooking time required because pot barley takes almost twice as long to cook?

    1. Bev, We are going with the cooking time listed. Feel free to use a different variety of barley. You may need to adjust the cooking time.

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