This soup needs to be cooked when you have a bit of time on your hands as it takes about an hour to put together but you can just taste how nourishing it is. I cooked it on a hot summer day in Sydney that had started off with a cool, overcast morning, can't wait to enjoy it on a cold winter's day. This soup was based on a recipe by Jane Strode.
Chicken, barley and lentil soup
1 hour 15 mins
⅓ cup (80ml) olive oil
2 brown onions, finely sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 cup pearl barley
1.5L chicken stock
1 cup French green (puy) lentils
6 dried bay leaves
20 sprigs thyme
4 chicken thigh fillets, sliced
2 handfuls baby spinach
Sear the chicken until browned all over for about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Place oil, onions and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Season with pepper and cook until soft and starting to colour, about 20mins.
Add barley and stock, bring to a simmer and cook a further 10mins. Add lentils, bay leaves and thyme; cook a further 20mins or until lentils and barley are tender. Add chicken and season with salt. Cook a further 5mins or until chicken is just cooked through.
To serve, warm soup over medium heat, add spinach and cook until just wilted. Garnish with a dollop of pesto (see note).
Place leftover soup in small zip-lock bags and freeze – the single serves are convenient for work lunches or a quick dinner. Add extra spinach and pesto just before serving. Will keep for up to 6 weeks.
To make pesto, place 1 cup basil leaves, ½ cup pine nuts, ¼ cup grated parmesan and 2 cloves garlic in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Gradually add 1/4 cup (70ml) extra virgin olive oil, processing to combine. Place in a clean container, cover with a little extra oil and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 4 weeks.[br]Prep: 20mins. Cooking: 1hr 5mins. Makes 2L.