Druid soup (chicken, kale, mushroom and barley soup)

Chicken, kale, mushroom and barley soup

I finally got around to cutting up this week’s chicken. The autumn chill in Canberra is killing off the thyme and oregano I’ve been growing on my windowsill, but I know there’s still some flavour in the dried up stalks so I cut them off and put them in the stock I make with the carcass. I think this meant I needed to use the stock a little more specifically, in European style food, rather than Asian. I was thinking about making a lovely French or English soup when I came up with this idea. I’m very glad about how it turned out. For me this dish is appropriately named druid soup, it is made from ancient hearty ingredients and has a wonderful earthy flavour. When I told my partner I wanted to call it druid soup, he said it was more like an Etruscan pagan soup. This seemed fair enough to me, ancient Italians grew barley too, and kale is called Tuscan cabbage for a reason I’m sure. Either way, pagan, druid, I can easily imagine them cooking up a chicken carcass to make a broth with foraged mushrooms, barley, onion and kale. It is very delicious and appropriate to the season. It made me feel a little more like a nature worshipper too, in wonder of the earth.

Serves 3

Stock

1 free range chicken carcass
3 celery stalks
2 carrot
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs oregano
quantity parsley stalks
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

Soup

quantity chicken meat pulled from carcass (reserved from above)
2 litres chicken stock (from above)
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 bunch kale
2 cups Swiss brown mushrooms
1 onion
2 teaspoons butter

To make the stock, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, cover well with water. Place the lid on the saucepan and bring to the boil, removing skum from the surface as it appears. Simmer for approximately 90 minutes. Drain the stock, reserving the chicken carcass. Discard the vegetables and other flavourings. When the chicken carcass is cool enough to touch, remove as much meat from the bones as possible and reserve.

To make the soup, place the barley in a small saucepan with 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to the boil and cook till nearly tender, topping up the water as required. Do not drain the barley. Dice the onion. Cut the mushrooms roughly into quarters so they are of approximately equal size. Finely slice the kale. In a large saucepan, melt the butter on a medium-high heat and brown the mushrooms. Turn the heat down to low and add the onion. Cook till soft and translucent. Add the stock, chicken and barley. If you want to freeze some of the soup, do so at this point. Otherwise bring the soup to the boil and add the kale. Allow the kale to wilt and serve.

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