Chicken soup for the rain

4 June 2012

chicken, barley and green bean soup with garlic, lovage, parsley and marjoram

green lentil and roasted fennel soup with garlic, rosemary, parsley and marjoram

garlic rubbed toasts

sorrel and wild arugula from the garden with olive oil, salt and radishes

apricots

How I made the chicken soup:

I seasoned a whole chicken generously with salt and pepper, then let it sit at room temperature for an hour.

Next, I diced two medium onions, four carrots and five stalks of celery into half inch pieces, added them to a soup pot with a few fresh bay leaves and sautéed them in olive oil over a high flame for a few minutes, then lowered the temperature and cooked them slowly, stirring the vegetables in the pan from time to time until they were very soft.  Then I turned off the heat and let the pot sit on the stove.

While the vegetables cooked, I placed the chicken and its neck in a separate soup pot with half an onion, a carrot, a small bulb of fennel cut in half, one stalk of celery, a clove of garlic, a small spoonful of peppercorns, two bay leaves and some sprigs of thyme.  I just barely covered the chicken and aromatics with water, brought the whole lot to a boil on top of the stove, covered the pot with a lid, turned off the heat and let the chicken slowly cook for about forty five minutes in the residual heat.

While the chicken cooked, I boiled two cups of barley in about six cups of salted water.  When the barley seemed close to tender, I shut of the heat and let the grains slowly finish cooking in the water.  I later drained and rinsed the barley, reserving a cup of the delicious barley water for the soup and separately tossed the barley with some extra virgin olive oil and left it in a serving bowl, at room temperature, for presentation alongside the soup.

Then I lifted the chicken from the pot, carefully draining the hot liquid from its cavity back into the pot, and placed it on my cutting board.  While the chicken was still hot, I cut the wings from the chicken and returned them to the pot.  Then I cut the legs from the body, removed the skin, took the meat off the bones and returned the leg bones to the pot, as well.

Next,  I placed the leg meat, cut into bite size chunks, into the other pot with the diced soup vegetables.  I also added to that pot about four cups of leftover blanched green beans that had been cut into three quarter inch pieces and the reserved  cup of barley water.

Then, I cut the chicken back free from its body and returned it to the pot it had been cooked in.  Steadying the breast on the cutting board, I removed the skin and cut the meat from the bone, setting the breast halves aside on my cutting board and returning the breast bones to the broth.  I brought the broth back to a boil over a high flame, then reduced the heat to let it simmer for another half hour.

While the broth simmered, I ladled some of it, through a mesh sieve, into the soup pot with the vegetables, green beans and leg meat.  I also added to that pot a rind of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, several gratings of black pepper and a a few small handfuls of chopped parsley, lovage and thyme. I turned the heat back on to a high flame to bring the liquid to a boil, then lowered the heat to gently simmer these things together for about twenty minutes.

When it came time to serve the soup, I tore the breast meat into bite sized pieces and added it to the pot.  I also ladled enough fresh broth, from the other pot, through a mesh sieve, into the chicken soup to create a proper, brothy consistency.  Then, I ended up adding a a few more ladles of broth because I remembered that people would also be spooning barley into their bowls.

I removed the Parmigiano Reggiano rind and bay leaves from the pot and seasoned the soup to taste with salt and pepper, setting it out with a big ladle right next to the bowl of barley and another little bowl of chopped parsley and marjoram that had been moistened with olive oil and seasoned with pounded garlic and salt.

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