Anyway, be grateful I am not sharing Russian barley soup with you - Rassolnik, made with pickled cucumbers, barley and kidneys! That is a step too far for me. Nah, I would give it a go if someone cooked it for me. I believe in eating whatever someone is kind enough to make for you, even if not your fave dish. My sis-in-law's sis-in-law made us spaghetti with tomato sauce one night for dinner and as regular readers may know, for me this does not compute! Eek to packet pasta and eek to (tasteless) tomato sauce! But yes I ate as much as I could stomach, and then went home to have some dinner:)
Righto, enough whingeing. On to the soup. Oh, and mum's did not have dried porcini mushroom flavouring it either. Dad was a meat and 3 veg man so nothing 'foreign' for him. If you have time, rinse and soak the barley for a few hours before making the soup. I left it late so only soaked it for 2 hours, though 6-8 hours is better, says Beata.
1 red onion, diced
2 large carrots, chopped - I like my carrots chunky
1-2 stalks of celery, sliced up
1 parsnip, diced - I used an extra half carrot and skipped the parsnip
3 chicken thigh cutlets (with bones in)
4 dried porcini mushrooms
200g. pearl barley (soaked for a few hours in cold water)
2 tsp chicken stock powder
2.7 litres of water (my soup pan wouldn't hold the 3 litres called for in the recipe!)
1 tbs lightly dried parsley
1 tbs dill paste (from a tube)
1 large potato, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Place the peeled and chopped onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and chicken cutlets into a large saucepan
Add in the porcini, barley, stock powder and water and half of the parsley and dill
Bring to the boil and simmer away for an hour till tender and beautiful
Throw in the diced potato and add salt and pepper to taste (I found it needed quite a lot)
Stir in the other half of the parsley and dill
Simmer for another 15 minutes
Pull the chicken meat off the bones, discard the bones and plop the meat back into the soup
Serve with crusty bread, in large bowls
Why not fresh herbs you may well ask? Because seeing how it is winter, the fresh herbs looked very sad and sorry and not worth the money. If you do find decent quality herbs, by all means use them and double the quantities given here. There was no need to saute the veggies first as I would normally have done (the recipe does not suggest this, and truly I found the soup delicious without doing it). Normally I would soak the dried porcini first, but the recipe said to just chuck 'em in, so I did! It also had only 2 chicken wings as part of the soup, which are removed at the end of cooking, but I felt there would be more flavour, and nicer to have a bit of flesh in the soup so I added the cutlets.
|chopped veggies in the pan
|barley soaked and drained; potato ready for dicing
|adding chicken thigh cutlets
|ready for boiling!
|diced potato about to be plopped in
|ready to eat
|even better the next day for lunch!
Did I mention how much I enjoyed the book this came from? The author is a doctor in Sydney, but travels often back to Poland, her home-country. This book, and her earlier one Rose Petal Jam are both full of delightful photos taken by her husband Simon; stories about her childhood, and the delicious foods her grandmother made for the family. Her writing is a little over the top for me, a tad too sentimental, but I understand that her heart is still in Poland in many ways. It is a beautiful book with many lovely photos, and you can happily find yourself "lost in Poland." And the recipes are interesting too!
|church in Karkonosze Mountains Poland (image public domain)
Beata spent her childhood summers at her grandmother's cottage in these mountains.