In the Kitchen: Chicken, Chard, and Barley Soup

It’s November 1. (Or will be by the time you read this.) You’re seriously overdosed on shitty candy. The antidote? Soup. No doubt there are bazillions of versions of this dish out there, because this is an obvious combination of foods. This particular version is what came out of my brain and cupboard one night.

Serve it with this: Slice a baguette lengthwise. Spread both pieces with salted butter. Set under the broiler for six minutes. Ohhhhhh…..

  • 1/2 pound of boneless chicken
  • 1 c. barley (the real stuff; not that boxed instant crap)
  • 1 small onion
  • a couple of carrots
  • a couple of celery stalks
  • one bunch of chard
  • can of chopped tomatoes
  • can of white beans (cannilini or navy) (or whatever) (No, I have no idea how to spell cannilini) (Canillini?)
  • a half cup or so of grated parmesan

Fill a saucepan with four or five cups of water and heat to boil. Add the barley and cook until done to your preference. (I like mine a bit chewy, which takes about 25 minutes.) When it’s finished, drain the barley, reserving the water.

Put the chicken in a soup pot, add water to cover, boil, and then turn heat to a simmer. Cook for, I dunno, twenty minutes or so? Until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken and reserve the water. (You’re going to use the barley and chicken water as the soup base.)

While that’s happening, remove the stems from the chard. Chop those and set aside. Roll the chard leaves into bundles and slice them. Chop the onion, celery, and carrots, setting the onion aside so you can cook it first. To the soup pot, add a quarter or so of olive oil and the onion. Cook on medium till onion is golden brown. Add the carrot, celery, and chard stems. Cook five or six minutes.

While that’s underway, turn to the chicken, which should be cool by now. Cut it into spoon-sized bits. Add the can of tomatoes to the soup pot; cook another five or six minutes. Add the chard to the pot. Cover the pan, and cook seven, eight minutes; until the chard is cooked down. To the pot add the beans, barley, chicken, and some of the barley-chicken liquid. How much liquid? I don’t know. Four cups? You want the soup to have some body, so don’t get carried away.

Add some salt and pepper. Let it cook on medium-low heat for a half hour or so. Pour the wine. Sprinkle some of the cheese on your soup. Enjoy. Your brain will forget all that sugar.

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