Chicken and Barley Soup
Figman loves a good chicken soup. It is ingrained in his soul - the smell of it takes him away to childhood and the comfort of coming into a warm house to find that his mother had cooked up a big pot of soup.
I had some chicken from the market - maryland pieces cut into half - drumsticks and thigh pieces. It was the first time I'd used these instead of a whole chicken and coincidentally, one of Figman's colleagues told him just the other day that "that's what the Italians use for soup".
I fried up a diced onion and added the chicken pieces, skin side down. I wanted them to crisp just a bit as I do not like limp, white, gluggy chicken skin in my soup. That little bit of colour and flavour makes a huge difference.
I added four diced carrots, five stalks of celery and about 2/3 of a cup of barley. It was the first time I'd used barley and I couldn't find anything in my cookbooks about how long to cook it. I guessed, and I guessed incorrectly. It took at least 1 1/2 hours to fully soak up all the liquid and be properly cooked. Given that I only put the barley in after the soup had been on for a couple of hours already, this was a minor nuisance.
Salt, seasonings, and a dash of extra virgin olive oil on top when served.
Figman walked in the door from a blustery Melbourne night and sniffed.
"Our house should always smell like this" he said.