Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup

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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!

Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup
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5 from 2 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 Time10 mins
Cook Time6 hrs 30 mins
Total Time6 hrs 40 mins
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Slow Cooker
Servings: 6
Calories: 218kcal


  • 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.


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

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12 Comments on "Slow Cooker Turkey Sausage with Barley Soup"

  1. Gail  September 26, 2019

    Can you substitute spinach for the kale

    • Nichole Furlong  September 26, 2019

      Yes! Spinach is a great substitute.

  2. esther  October 6, 2019

    Can you just use turkey parts in place of sausage?

    • Nichole Furlong  October 6, 2019

      Sausage is best for this recipe as it also includes herbs and spices to help flavor the soup.

  3. Joanne  January 19, 2020

    5 stars
    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.

    • Erin Milller  January 22, 2020

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

  4. Kat  February 25, 2020

    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!

    • Nichole Furlong  February 29, 2020

      Either would work, if you like things spicy, use hot!

  5. Joanne  February 25, 2020

    5 stars
    This is a delicious soup. My husband loved it.

    • Erin Milller  February 26, 2020

      That excellent, Joanne! Thanks for the feedback!

  6. Autumn Porter  March 1, 2020

    Is the serving size one cup?

    • Nichole Furlong  March 1, 2020

      Yes, 1 to 1 1/2 cup preserving.


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