Belladonna Bess

An edible garden in Wellington, NZ

and again… May 30, 2009

Filed under: Cooking,Garden — belladonnabess @ 9:08 pm

Cursing: gale force southerlies. We had a relatively fine week after the previous vile weekend. And now, more revolting weather for the long weekend.

Celebrating: ok, the weather is appalling, but it is a long weekend

Harvesting: broccoli, celery, parsley

Buying: carrots, onions. Mostly I’m prepared to make do with the vegetables I have available, but chicken soup needs an onion and preferably carrots.

Forgetting: garlic should have been on my “eating” list for the last couple of months. I grew the most absurdly small garlic cloves, but I’ve got plenty of them. The “secret” of how to grow absurdly small garlic is to dig up the entire patch of garlic when it has been in the ground about 3 months and move it. Then move it again 3 months later. Then harvest after pulling out the tomatoes and zucchini that took over the 3rd location in a season where your poor garlic was trying to grow. I didn’t mean to grow it this way, but I dug up my entire garden in late October so I could get a new retaining wall built. Then I progressively put things back.

Making: chicken soup. Over winter, my staple food is chicken soup. When I’m feeling nostalgic or really need comfort I make it almost exactly as my grandfather used to. However his recipe was short on both vegetables and fibre, so I usually make a variant.

Today’s chicken soup recipe

1 onion (peeled)

1 chicken frame (yes, you will notice the difference if you can get a free range or organic one)

water (about 4 litres)

Bring to the boil in a big pot with the lid on. Leave the lid on and turn to low so it is just boiling. Add some salt (about a teaspoon).

After about half an hour add 2/3 cup pearl barley and 1/4 cup red lentils.

Put the lid back on, bring it back to the boil, then turn down again and leave for another 45 minutes or so.

Chop a couple of carrots and a few stalks of celery.

Taste it and add a bit more salt, but leave it undersalted as you will concentrate it a little later.

Remove the chicken frame and onion into a sieve over a bowl. Pick the chicken meat off the bones and return to the pot. Also return any liquid that drained off and any bits of barley you accidentally removed with the chicken. The lentils will have disappeared by now.

Add the chopped vegetables and about a tablespoon of tomato paste. Put the lid back on and return to the boil. Turn the temperature down and leave until you think the barley and vegetables are cooked enough, or nearly cooked enough.

Remove the lid and turn it up a bit –  you will need the temperature higher to keep it boiling compared to when you left the lid on.

Add about 1/4 cup of alphabet pasta if the whole thing seems too healthy and you want some refined carbohydrate.

Boil until the pasta has cooked or it has reduced a bit.

Turn it off and eat it for lunch and dinner for the next 3 days.

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