Recipe 46: Chicken and Barley Soup

This is the delicious soup mentioned in the Cheese and Herb Bread Recipe 45. It has everything you could possibly want in a soup. Aroma, flavour and a hearty quality that  fills you up and keeps you warm on a cold day. It has a slightly different taste attributed to a few of the herbs and spices added into the broth.

The first domesticated grain in the Near East was Barley. Wild barley was found from North Africa and Crete in the west and as far east as Tibet. The earliest evidence of wild barley in an archaeological records comes from the Epipaleolithic at Ohalo II at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. The remains are believed to date back to 8500 BC. Barley has been grown in the Korean Peninsula since the Early Mumun Pottery Period (c. 1500–850 BC) along with other crops such as millet, wheat, and legumes.

Barley beer was likely the first drink developed by Neolithic man. Barley was also used as currency. Alongside emmer wheat, Barley was a staple cereal of ancient Egypt, where it was used to make bread and beer.

In ancient Greece, the ritual significance of barley dates back to the earliest stages of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The preparatory kykeon or mixed drink of the initiates, prepared from barley and herbs, referred in the Homeric hymn to Demeter, whose name some scholars believe meant “Barley-mother”.The practice was to dry the barley groats and roast them before preparing the porridge, according to Pliny the Elder’s Natural History (xviii.72). This produces malt that soon ferments and becomes slightly alcoholic.

Pliny also noted barley was a special food of gladiators known as hordearii, “barley-eaters”. However, by Roman times, he added that wheat had replaced barley as a staple.

Tibetan barley has been a staple food in Tibet since the 5th century A.D. This grain, along with a cool climate that permitted storage, produced a civilization that was able to raise great armies. It is made into a flour product called tsampa that is still a staple in Tibet. The flour is roasted and mixed with butter and butter tea to form a stiff dough that is eaten in small balls.

In medieval Europe, bread made from barley and rye was peasant food, while wheat products were consumed by the upper classes. Potatoes largely replaced barley in Eastern Europe in the 19th century.
Some text taken from Wikipedia

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients

10 cups of water
4 to 5 chicken legs (I use leg as it stands up to boiling without falling apart)
1/4 cup concentrated chicken stock or several cubes to taste
1/2 tsp salt
6 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 large red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 green cubanelle pepper seeded and diced
1/2 cup of pearl barley
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
chopped parsley as garnish

Directions

Add water to pot and bring to a boil. Add salt and chicken legs and allow to return to the boil. Turn heat down to medium and allow chicken to cook for 1 hour. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool.  Add all other ingredients to the pot except parsley and bring back up to the boil if not already doing so. Allow to cook for 20 minutes.  During this time chicken will have cooled enough to handle. Remove skin and separate meat from bone.  Shred or chop meat into pieces and add to pot. Place lid on pot reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook for another 30 minutes or until barley is tender. Allow soup to cool slightly before serving.

Yields 12 servings

FOOTNOTE: You can also add dumplings to this soup 30 minutes prior to serving.

Dumplings: Mix together 2 cups all-purpose flour  and 1 teaspoon salt. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms. It should be sticky but not to soft. Add to boiling soup using large spoon and scooping enough dough to fill spoon. Push into pot being careful not to burn yourself as soup will splash. You can also preform dough into 2 inch balls and place into soup. I prefer the spoon method as it gives a lighter dumpling when cooked.

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