One of the dishes in last month's Polish-themed Kitchen Trotter box was a pearl barley soup with chicken and vegetables called krupnik.
There was a box of kasza jęczmienna (barley groats) in the kit - apparently the archaic name for them is krupy, which is what gave the soup its name. I was surprised to see that they came in individual boil-in-the-bag servings. This wouldn't really work for soup though, so I just cut open one of the bags and tipped the barley into the soup.
It's a very quick and simple meal - satisfying but healthy, just like most rustic "peasant food". This soup also really reminded me of the Zuppa Di Orzo pearl barley soup from the Italian-themed Kitchen Trotter box. Krupnik has meat in it though, and just pearl barley rather than a mixture of pulses.
100g pearl barley
2 chicken thighs
1/2 a stick of celery
3 bay leaves
2 litres of water
some fresh parsley
Peel and chop the vegetables. The original recipe said to chop the potatoes and onions but coarsely grate the carrots and turnip. I chopped everything to make a chunky stew-like soup though. I also replaced the turnip by a couple of leeks, because that was what was in the fridge.
That wasn't my only deviation from the proper recipe. You are supposed to put the water on to boil then add the chicken and pearl barley, along with the salt, pepper, celery and bay leaves, cover and leave to cook for 45 minutes. After this time, remove the meat and add the vegetables, leaving them to cook for at least 40 minutes. (That sounded like a ludicrously long time to me - they'd be totally overcooked and soggy.) Pull the chicken apart with two forks, put it back in the pot with the vegetables, turn off the heat, leave for a few minutes for the chicken to warm up then sprinkle with parsley and serve.
I went for a much quicker and simpler technique. I put the chopped leftover roast chicken from the Sunday roast straight in with the pearl barley and vegetables (all chopped, not grated) then cooked the whole lot for 15 minutes. I added a chicken stock cube for flavour.
It's just the ticket for a light lunch or dinner, accompanied with a thick slice of rye bread, slathered in butter. Or you could have a side serving of smalec - toast with a kind of Polish pâté.
It's a great way of clearing out the veg box of the fridge and using up the leftovers from a roast chicken (pork or turkey would work too, so bear it in mind for using up the Christmas leftovers) so I'm adding it to this month's #KitchenClearout linky.
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