Sunday, April 17, 2011
Porcini & Barley Soup
A well known television chef was recounting a visit to a regional restaurant in Italy. When he asked what was in the risotto, the answer was just a little good stock.
All home cooks and chefs alike know the value of home made stock.
It has a flavour and body that no multinational corporation has yet been able to put in a box. No doubt, in a busy kitchen, shortcuts can and do get made, it's the nature of our time poor society. But, when the chance presents itself, there is nothing quite so satisfying as simmering some bones, vegetables and aromatics, the alchemy of which results in a wondrous flavoursome liquid.
A recent dinner party collided with a day at the footy, so my wife was pretty much left with all the cooking. Her only request was for some homemade chicken stock before I left. I'm a firm believer in using all parts of the chicken, frames, wings, feet and giblets, though not the liver. If all you can get your hands on is some chicken wings, a decent stock can still be yours too.
There are so many recipes for chicken stock that I won't bother with one here, but I will tell you how to make the soup.
Porcini and Barley Soup
For every litre of chicken stock:
10 to 15 g dried porcini
1/2 cup barley
1 or 2 waxy yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
salt & fresh ground pepper
chopped parsley to garnish
optional - a little cream
Place the porcini in a saucepan with a cup of water and simmer until the mushrooms are soft. Drain, reserving the water and chop the porcini into small pieces.
Place the chicken stock in a pot with the barley, porcini and reserved cooking water and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the barley is soft, about 30 minutes. Add the diced potato, season with salt and fresh ground pepper and continue to simmer until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes. Check the seasoning again as the potatoes will take up some salt.
Ladle into soup bowls with a little cream if desired and garnish with the chopped parsley.