I'd love to stay and chat and talk about the lovely greens and perky French radishes my Farmer's Market provided this morning - the Russian Kale looks especially promising - but there is simply too much to do around here to linger. There are lilac, azalea, camellia, and jasmine to plant; garden fencing to mend, and a porch swing to hang!
There always seems to be time for soup, however, so before I'm off, I'll leave you with this for your bowl...
Chicken, Bacon, Barley Soup
2 split chicken breasts (skin-on, bone-in)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup lean bacon, chopped (about 4 strips)
3 large shallots, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 cup pearled barley
3/4 cup dry white wine
6-8 cups homemade chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken, breast-up, on an oiled broiler pan, rubbing a little oil over the breasts and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken on the middle rack in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until browned and just cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest.
In a large stockpot, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat (if using a more fatty bacon, this oil may not be necessary). Add the chopped bacon, shallots and celery to the oil and cook until the bacon crisp, but not burned. Add the thyme and the barley and stir to combine and coat the barley in the oil and rendered fat - just a minute or two. Add the wine and stir until it begins to be absorbed. Add the chicken stock (6 cups for a thicker soup; 8 for a thinner version) and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring every so often, just until the barley is cooked and tender - about 30-45 minutes.
In the meantime, remove the skin from the cooled chicken, and shred the meat. Add to the soup once the barley has cooked, continuing to heat the soup until the chicken has warmed. Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve.