This’ll cure what ails you

Posted on June 6, 2011

Last week, when I needed it most, my Mum presented me with a container of chicken soup to take home. I had it for lunch the next day, a cold, wet, rainy day, when Mr4 was at home and my work remained undone. It was a revelation in a bowl, that soup. Fragrant lemon, hearty barley, savoury leek… Perfect for one of Those days.

I posted a little status update on Facebook claiming that it would ‘cure what ails you’, and was immediately asked for the recipe.

So here it is. The recipe is from mum’s newly purchased cookbook Winter Food, published by Penguin. I had a quick look through it while I was visiting and can assure you that it looks worth the price of admission. They should have just called it The Comfort Cookbook and been done with it. But I digress…

Barley Soup with chicken, leek and mushrooms

50g pearl barley
juice and zest of one lemon
5 cups chicken stock
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons of butter
2 leeks, thinly sliced
4 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place barley, lemon juice and stock in a saucepan and slowly bring it to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until barley is tender. Add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a frying pan and gently cook leeks and mushrooms until golden-brown. Add wine to deglaze the pan, then add the vegetables and liquid to soup. Season with salt and pepper. Add parsley, and check seasoning. Ladle soup into bowls, distributing chicken evenly.

I liked it so much, I made it for dinner on Sunday night for the Builder and I as we recovered from our big Saturday night at the hall. It hit the spot perfectly. I had a large lemon and, at Mum’s suggestion, used only half the zest. It was enough. Perfect for even those self-inflicted illnesses…

[image: this cute cloud mobile from leptitpapillon/etsy would also cheer up one of Those days.]


  1. Tai Tai

    Just bought all the ingredients and am about to whip this up!! You had me at hello with this. Will report back and hopefully it’ll be as delicious as yours!!! xx

  2. Thea

    Geez, that looks pretty easy. I reckon even I could give that one a go. Just one question. I hear it all the time because, of course, I watch Masterchef and Jamie Oliver and just about every other cooking show even though I HATE to cook….what does deglazing the pan actually mean???

  3. Allison Rushby

    That soup sounds just about perfect. I would make some, but I only have three things left in the pantry pre-move and I don’t think baked beans, breadsticks and almond meal are going to make much of a soup.

  4. River

    Warming comfort food is one of the reasons I like winter so much. I have a dozen or so containers of assorted home made soups in the freezer right now. There’s chicken vegetable, minestrone (my version), and beef & barley. Heat and eat yumminess.

  5. Shelly - Tropical Mum

    I love a soup that uses lemon. My favourite is a red lentil soup that we add lemon juice and mint to, like we had in Turkey during our OE.

    I have bookmarked this for use very soon.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Jodi @ The Scribble Den

    Oh I so need this today. If only I had the energy to cook it 🙁

  7. Maxabella

    Mum is the best soup recipe finder ever! We should get her onto the truffles (or something!?)

    If Lucy gets the chutney recipe she will be the first Tait kid to do so!!


  8. So Now What?

    Thanks. Been looking for a good soup recipe. Need to make batches so I’ve got some on hand when I cannot be arsed cooking after work.


  9. A-M

    Oh goody, I need a good recipe. Thank you. A-M xx

  10. Kim H

    Oh yum! Thanks so much for the recipe. I’ll be making it this week for sure xx

  11. InkPaperPen

    It does sound like the ultimate comfort food. I love barley in soup. How good is it when you have a meal prepared for you? Especially when it is prepared by your mum!

  12. Gemma @ My Big Nutshell

    and it sounds like it was great for the soul too!

    The pearl barley, mushies and leek with the lemon sounds very bloody special. Going to give that a whirl!

  13. tinsenpup

    It’s amazing what a difference the right comfort food can make when you need a little nurturing, isn’t it?

  14. MultipleMum

    Yum! I love a good soup and that one will be a winner at our place. I will definitely whip up a pot in the next couple of weeks (after I conquer the borlotti beans number you did a few posts back – you are becoming a food blogger!) Does Dad give up the chutney recipes?

  15. therhythmmethod

    Thank you for clarifying. Hope you don’t think I’m a sticky beak. Connecting dots on people’s family trees is a bit of a sport in my family. Small town syndrome. 😉

  16. allison tait

    LOL. Sorry, I just realised how that read @therhythmmethod – mum didn’t write the cookbook, she just purchased it. Like I’m going to… Will now go and edit that sentence so that it makes sense.

    Oh and @diminishinglucy – I’m on the chutney. Sorry, forgot about it!

  17. Diminishing Lucy

    Tell your Mum that the spare Tait loves her for another recipe I can use with lemons.

    And if she (or your Dad?) have a chutney recipe going handy…?

    Self inflicted ills indeed…


  18. therhythmmethod

    Your mum is a writer too? Could your family be any more interesting?
    I tried to find this book on the web, but Google came up with weird links about penguins and krill. Sounds divine! The soup, not the krill …

  19. Seana Smith

    This soup sounds delicious, many thanks for the recipe. I love pearl barley, must get to the shops!

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