Chicken barley bake - how much water?

Lately, lower back pain has forced me to use extra shortcuts in cooking. I have in mind: in a broad, shallow pan put 2 cups of dry pearl barley. Place 2# boneless, skinless chicken breasts atop the barley. Spread 12oz. thawed chopped spinach over the chicken. Mix 3c cream of mushroom soup (Whole Foods store-made) with 1c French onion soup (Panera) to go over the top before baking at 375F, covered at first. I think more liquid will be needed for the barley, even if I don’t squeeze the spinach. I don’t want to use broth because the soups are salty enough and will cook down to be even saltier. Any ideas as to how much water will be needed? The goal is a casserole that is moist and creamy, without being soupy.

@greygarious, barley takes up an incredible amount of water; based on the proportions of the rest of your ingredients, I would cut the barley down to one cup. You’ll want to cover the casserole dish while baking, and check about 2/3 through to ensure there’s enough liquid. You may even still need to add a little chicken stock or water. Think a chopped onion would be good, and would provide moisture as well, or alternatively, some dried minced onion.

Since I’m using onion soup in the sauce, I won’t need more.

I wasn’t very clear, but IMO, with all that barley, it could get a little bland. Having no idea what your palate is like, you may want to consider adding some seasoning in lieu of additional onion @greygarious. Let us know how it turns out.

barley is one of our staples - subs for potato, rice, etc…

300g water for 100g barley is my experience.
1 cup barley = 194g so two cups is going to take a lot of water/liquid/stock.

cooking in a open roasting pan may be problematic - I’d be tempted to prepare/cook the barley, then combine with the other liquids/ingredients and use the cooked stuff as a bed. that would allow you to do the chicken to ‘perfect’ knowing the barley is going to be non-crunchy…

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