Friday, 30 November 2007

Chicken Barley Soup

Is it any co-incidence that my throat started to feel much better after a steaming hot bowl of this soup? This is the classic cure for what ails you, after all.

Just as a note, if you can get a pair of feet to put into the stock, so much the better. They improve the body and colour of the broth, and are widely regarded as providing a lot of the kick to chicken soup's health-giving properties.

8 to 10 servings
3 hours - 1 hour prep time

2 to 3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
8 cups chicken stock, OR chicken stock and water

3/4 cup raw pot barley
2 1/4 cups water
1/8 teaspoon salt

4 stalks celery, or 1 small celery root
1 large leek
2 carrots
1 teaspoon savory
2 tablespoons chicken fat
2 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons miso
salt & pepper

When I have a good flavourful organic chicken (or in fact half a chicken) I start by poaching it gently in 2 litres of water until tender, with a bay leaf and other seasonings if you are inclined. I usually keep it pretty simple. Then I let it cool overnight in the fridge. The next day, it is easy to de-fat the stock. (Keep a little to sauté the vegetables.) The chicken I remove from the bones, dice, and reserve to go back into the soup later. I add the bones back into the stock and simmer it for another hour or two as I prepare the rest of the ingredients.

If I can't get really good chicken, I start with prepared chicken stock and water - half and half - and cook my chicken pieces in that. I usually choose chicken thighs with skin and bone as they are inexpensive and not inclined to get dry.

At any rate, when you are done you should have about 8 cups of chicken stock and 3 to 4 cups of diced cooked chicken.

Cook the barley with the water and salt. I do this in my rice cooker as it makes it very simple and requires no attention. This too can be done the night before you assemble the soup.

Wash the celery, and dice it fairly fine. Wash and chop the leek, and rinse it well again and drain it. Peel and dice the carrots. Sauté these vegetables with the savory in the chicken fat until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. I like the basic savory flavour, but you could replace it with a more complex poultry seasoning mix if you like; use thyme, sage, rosemary, celery seed and oregano, but I would still go lightly on these and more heavily on the savory.

Put the strained chicken stock, cooked barley, sautéed vegetables and diced chicken into a large soup pot. Add the finely chopped savoy cabbage, and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Adjust the seasonings; in particular I am inclined to add salt and pepper at this time.


Peter M said...

Ferdzy, I like the Miso twist in the soup and I hope you're well soon.

Kevin Kossowan said...

Soup is very underrated. Good on ya.

Kevin said...

Sounds tasty and just look at all of the steam. The miso is a great addition. I like adding miso to western style soups to add a bit of flavour.