Jewish Penicillin

Uuugh! We are both under the weather.... so, this absolutely calls for Jewish penicillin. Chicken soup is one of those magical substances believed to cure everything. It is also the centre piece and glory of the Jewish table. Every one has their own recipe, tried and tested through generations of grandmothers and mothers. I grew up eating more of a chicken consomme than a hearty bowl of bits and broth. On all Jewish tables a clear consomme was and still is a sign of greatness, I however, have never managed to perfect this. My penicillin is a bowl packed with chunky vegetables, succulent chicken and pearl barley. I prefer to cut the carrots into large pieces, to avoid disintegration and use leeks as opposed to onions, which can make the soup rancid. Another good trick, is to boil the chicken for a few minutes in a separate pot of water to ensure all the fat and blood can cook out. This also makes the skin soft enough to remove before adding the flesh to the vegetables. Doing this bit before, means the soup won't be fatty and there will be no need to remove any scum from the surface. Use the best quality organic chicken, I find the brown meat is the most flavoursome.

Recipe (serves 2 for a couple of days)

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
1 large leek, thickly sliced
2 or 3 sticks of celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, whole
quarter of a cup pearl barley
4 organic chicken thighs
small bunch of thyme
1.5 Lt water
1 and a half chicken stock cubes
small knob of butter

First bring a pot of water to the boil, add the chicken pieces and allow to boil for about 5 minutes. Drain and remove skin. Set aside until needed.

In a heavy saucepan, saute leeks, celery and garlic in a little butter until they have softened slightly. Add carrots, thyme, barley and chicken. Cover with water and add stock cubes. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Remove chicken pieces and pull the flesh off the bones, return the flesh back to the pot and bring to the boil once again. Add more water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Serve piping hot with a good bit of bread.

Keep the soup in the fridge and when reheating, make sure to boil for 10 minutes before serving.

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