Chicken Barley Soup

Grady and I both have miserable head colds. We went to the market today, shuffling and sniffling our way up the aisles, filling our basket with healthy soup ingredients.

This soup is comforting and hearty, and is full of cold-busting veg. It's a throw-everything-in-the-pot-don't-worry-too-much-about-measuring kind of soup. To speed things up, use prepared stock instead of making your own.

Stock (don't worry about making things look pretty - you're going to strain the stock and toss the veg)
Chicken (I used 1/2 a whole chicken - bones and skin included. The skin adds flavour and - hippie alert - the bones have magic healing powers.)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3-4 carrots, roughly chopped
3-4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped (my piece was about 3 inches long)
Small bunch fresh parsley
Fresh rosemary
Sea salt
Whole peppercorns
Approximately 8 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 carrots, diced
3-4 stalks celery, diced
1 cup frozen green beans, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 bunch kale, de-stalked and chopped
1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
4 green onions, sliced

Throw everything in a large pot, ensuring the water covers everything. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for at least an hour. You want to make sure the water stays hot and is almost boiling the whole time, but you don't want the water boiling away. Every stove is different and every pot is different. You need to find your sweet spot.

After your stock has simmered, strain (reserving the liquid. I've dumped my stock down the drain without thinking. Once. I'll only do that once.) Remove chicken skin and bones, and chop or shred chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Rinse out your stock pot and heat olive oil over high heat. Cook onion, carrot, and celery until softened - 5 to 7 minutes. Add green beans and garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly (don't burn your garlic! Burnt garlic will ruin your soup.)

Add barley, stock, and chicken. (Okay, so I debated adding my chicken here or after the barley cooked and I decided to risk overcooking it to be sure I wasn't going to end up with salmonella-y soup. It wasn't rubbery or too strong-tasting so I feel good about adding it when I did.) Bring to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until barley is just about tender. Add kale and cook for another 5 minutes or so (my kale was kind of tough so it took a full 5 minutes. Younger, more delicate kale will cook faster.) Add parsley and green onions just before serving.