A deliciously soothing and warming soup. It does take a while to prepare, but it keeps well, so make a large pot and freeze portions for later. And of course, there are few things that smell better than a pot of chicken stock bubbling away on the stove, or onions that are gently caramelizing.
Chicken and Barley Soup (serves 4 + leftovers)
Adapted from “Leon – Ingredients & Recipes”
2 chicken legs
2 small onions, peeled
2 sticks of celery
1 leek, washed
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 bay leaves
a few whole peppercorns
a few pieces of mace
a few sprigs of thyme
a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, with stalks
150 g pearl barley
250 g button mushrooms
salt and pepper
Optional: butter and/or olive oil (use if your chicken did not release enough fat)
Optional: crusty bread to serve the soup with
Chop 1 carrot, 1 onion, the celery and the green part of the leek coarsely. Smash 3 of the garlic cloves. Crush the peppercorns coarsely. Cut the stalks from the parsley, set the leaves aside for later. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms, set the tops aside for later. Throw in a stock pot, together with the bay leaves, mace and thyme. Heat a frying pan and place the chicken legs in it. Fry, turning regularly, until the skin is crisp and brown all around. Reserve the pan and the fat that came out of the chicken skin for later. Place the chicken legs on top of the vegetables in the stock pot, add 1.5 liter water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour.
Meanwhile, dice the second carrot and the second onion. Thinly slice the white part of the leek. Finely mince the 3 garlic cloves that were left. Pour half of the chicken fat into a (sauce)pan (large enough to accommodate the stock later on) and heat. Add the onion and a generous sprinkle of salt, fry until soft and translucent. Then add the carrot, leek and garlic. Sauté on low heat until very soft and golden. This will take about 30 minutes.
Take the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool. Pour the stock through a strainer into the pan with the caramelized vegetables, discard the vegetables from the stock. Add the pearl barley and leave to simmer for another hour.
Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms thinly and chop the parsley leaves finely. Heat the pan you used for the chicken with the reserved fat in it and fry the mushrooms until they are golden. Pick the meat of the chicken bones and chop it into pieces (discard the skin if you prefer). Check if your barley is tender, if not cook for a bit longer, if it is, add the mushrooms, parsley and chicken to the soup. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to adjust it. If the soup is a bit thick (can happen especially with the leftovers) you can add some extra water. Serve hot.