This soup is like a big warm hug, and packed with nutrition to boot!
Barley is high in fibre and has a low GI, meaning it helps stabilise blood sugar levels, keeping us fuller for longer, and is great for digestive health (all the buzz right now – top it off with kombucha and you’re a gut-health-guru). Barley is also a good source of vitamin B1 (assists conversion of sugars into energy and improves brain function), manganese (good for regulating metabolism and bone health) and magnesium (energy regulation and cellular function throughout the body).
I like to make my chicken stock a day ahead of making this soup. I make chicken stock, or ‘bone broth’, in a variety of ways. Sometimes I buy carcasses and wings or drumsticks, sometimes I use our leftover bones from a roast or tray bake, and sometimes I use a whole organic chicken. When I’m making this soup, I always make the stock from a whole chicken so I can reserve about half a chicken’s worth of flesh to add to the soup. The rest of the flesh you can save for sandwiches, or freeze for the next time you want to make chicken and barley soup! I’ve linked up Alexx Stuart’s instructions on how to make stock in case you’re new to making stock. It’s super easy, you won’t look back.
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil or ghee
1 tbsp Thermomix vegetable stock paste (or chopped mixed herbs)
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled & diced
5 shitake mushrooms (either fresh, or soak dried ones in boiling water), sliced (optional).
1 parsnip, peeled & diced
1 sweet potato, peeled & diced
½ cup pearl barley, rinsed
1 zucchini, diced
3 handfuls baby spinach, or green beans, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
2 L chicken stock & 2-3 cups reserved chicken flesh, shredded
Chopped continental parsley, to serve
I like to make this soup in a large Le Creuset pot.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and stir 5-10 mins until fragrant and onion starts to turn transparent.
- Add the celery, carrot, parsnip and sweet potato and stir to coat.
- Add the rinsed pearl barley, chicken stock and vegetable stock paste and stir through.
- Add the shitake mushrooms if using.
- Allow to simmer on low for 45 mins, stirring occasionally.
- At the 45 minute mark, add the zucchini and simmer a further 10 mins.
- Add the spinach or beans and reserved chicken flesh and stir through til pot returns to a simmer.
- Check seasoning and serve topped with continental parsley.
My seven year old, who as a 4 year old ate virtually no vegetables, devoured 3 bowls of this soup last Sunday. I could have cried with delight. Persistence pays mama.
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