Barley Chupe with Chicken, Queso and Avocado

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
Serves: 12

South American chupes are known for their thick and hearty consistency, thought of more as stews rather than soups. The Mexican cheese in this dish, queso fresco, literally translates to “fresh cheese”. It has a crumbly texture and traditionally is served over beans, rice dishes, quesadillas and soups. Substitute with a mild feta if you’re unable to find it in your local grocery or specialty store.


2.2 lb (1 kg) skinless chicken legs and back
8 cups (2 L) water
3/4 cups (175 mL) barley, unhulled
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin, ground
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) paprika, ground
1/4 tsp (1.25 mL) hot red chili pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 cup (250 mL) red onion(s), diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb (0.5 kg) red potatoes, unpeeled, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) lima beans, frozen
14 oz (400 g) canned diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 tsp (5 mL) oregano, dried
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese)
2 avocado
12 sprigs parsley


1 Combine the chicken legs and back with water, barley, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes and bay leaf in a soup pot. Cover and simmer for one hour. Remove chicken from pot to cool and cover soup to keep hot. Remove meat from bones and shred using hands or kitchen scissors. Add back to pot.
2 Heat oil over medium high heat in a non-stick skillet. Sauté onion and garlic. Add the red potatoes and cook over moderately high heat until they begin to brown.
3 Add sautéed vegetables and the frozen lima beans to the pot. Simmer until the barley and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
4 Add the canned tomatoes with liquid. Break tomatoes into smaller pieces using the back of a spoon. Season with dry oregano, salt and pepper and simmer until piping hot, about 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
5 To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with the queso/cheese and diced avocado. Add a fresh sprig of parsley (optional garnish).