Chicken, Pearl barley and butternut squash soup


Its thats time of year again with the shorter, cooler days ahead for a while. This soup is extremely comforting, wholesome and delicious. You can switch out the chicken for some king oyster mushrooms to give a vegetarian alterantive. 


2 Chicken legs, jointed into thighs and drumsticks
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
the white of white leek, chopped
1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed, peeled and roughly chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped.
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stalk and finely chopped.
1 tea cup of pearl barley, washed and drained.
chicken or vegetable stock to cover.
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 savoy cabbage or kale, stalk removed and shredded.  olive oil to cook with
  2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsely 
  A good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.


  1. Place a suitable sized sauce pan over a moderate heat. Add a good glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the onions and garlic, sweat down for a good couple of minutes until sweet and transluccent.
  2.  Add the leeks and continue to sweat down for another minute or two. Now you can add the butternut squash and sweet potato, along with the thyme and bay leaf. continue to sweat down for another 3 minutes.
  3. Now add the pearl barley along with enough stock to cover. push the chicken pieces into the soup making sure they are beneath the surface of the stock. Add another pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Bring to the boil and gently simmer with a lid on for about an hour.
  4. Turn the soup off the heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes before pulling the chicken pieces out and removing the skin and bones and placing the tender meat back into the soup along with the cabbage. stir well and finish with the lemon juice, olive oil and fresh parsley. 
  5. The soup is best eaten the next day as the flavours will develop and blend with one another. It will last 4 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. 

 Top Tip:

 Sweating down the vegetables means to gently fry without colour. Adding a pinch of salt during this pricess will help to bleed some moisture out of the onions enabling them to sweat and steam without colour making them deliciously sweet and flavoursome.