When I first moved to the US, this soup was one of the first things I associated with winter. My stepmother would make a huge pot of tomato chicken soup during the winters in California and it was always the best thing. Especially the next day, when all the flavors would have co-mingled properly. This is my version of that soup, a tomato chicken soup with barley.
One of the things I find interesting about this soup is that the tomato, red pepper and onions are blended in Nigerian style. I never asked my stepmother is this was how the recipe was originally made or this was influenced by marrying into the Nigerian culture. She also tends to make her version of the soup with potatoes. Oh! Those cubes of potatoes would have soaked up so much flavor the next day.
I started making my version of this tomato chicken soup with barley when I lived in Manchester England. It was my first time experiencing a snowy winter. I am not sure how I found barley but this soup is one of the only places I eat barley. I like barley. It is soft on the outside with a bit of a bite in the middle. That’s how I cook my barley.
The thing I like about making this tomato chicken soup with barley is that I can make the barley ahead. In fact, I recommend cooking the barley separately from the broth of the soup. Barley has a lot of starch that would thicken up the soup if cooked in the broth. I prefer to add in my cooked grains of barley into the soup at the last stage.
Blend the tomato puree, red pepper, chili flakes, onion, and garlic together in food processor until smooth.
In a large pot, add in the vegetable oil. Heat the oil for a minute or two before adding in the mirepoix. Season with some salt and then cook the mirepoix for about 4-5minutes until soft and translucent.
Add in the tomato mix into the pot along with the chicken broth. Bring up to boil, then reduce heat and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add in the kale and allow that to cook and reduce into the soup for about 5 minutes before adding in the cooked barley. Check that the salt is balanced and adjust is necessary
Let the soup simmer for a couple minutes before serving.
I use a homemade chicken broth when I make this soup. This why I don’t need to worry about seasoning the soup because all the flavor is in the broth. I have a recipe here for how I make chicken broth at home.
This is the easiest kind of soup. Everything is already prepped and cooking really is about warming up together. This Rice and Kale Chicken Soup with Pesto is one more tool in my fight against food waste.
The flavor base of the soup, the chicken broth does most of the hard work. By making building in the flavor of the herbs in the broth already, I can concentrate on just adding in my ingredients into the broth.
One of the things I like about this soup is that it solves the problem of leftover food. When I make this recipe at home, I am usually using bits of chicken leftover from a rotisserie chicken. The rice also tends to be leftover rice.
Really there is no recipe for this soup. I start the rice and kale chicken soup by sauteeing some kale in some oil. Any greens would work if you are not a fan of kale, Once the kale or greens are wilted, I add in the chicken broth. Bring that to a simmer, then add in the chicken bits and rice. I let it simmer for another couple of minutes, I taste it to check if it needs anything. Most times, I have to add a pinch of salt because I don’t make my broth with salt.
The rice and kale chicken soup goes in a bowl to be topped with some pesto. I also like avocado on this soup for some creaminess. A squeeze of lemon also works wonder by elevating the broth.
It is always surprising to me that I still have a sense of Monday as the beginning of the week. I have spent most of my career working an unconventional schedule. This means I work during the weekend. My days off are usually during the week. So, Monday for me is really just another day of the week. However, I still find myself in the Monday Blues needing something easy to get me going. This Turkey Kielbasa stir-fry has become the thing.
I love sausages. Always have, always will. But my relationship with any sausage is complicated because I don’t eat pork or its derivative. Almost all sausage products are encased in a pork casing, even when the filling is not pork based. This makes it hard for me to get sausages because I find myself reading ingredients fine print. Luckily I have been able to find a few brands that use collagen casing.
The thing I like about the Turkey Kielbasa from Hillshire Farms is the seasoning. The sausage has a balanced blend of herbs and spices. I don’t have to worry about seasoning the foods I put it in. This makes it a perfect backbone for a quick meal on a lazy night.
The other thing I should tell you about this turkey kielbasa stir fry is that it is not finicky. There is no order of business other than getting the sausage into a hot pan along with the vegetables. Everything just needs to heated thoroughly because the turkey kielbasa is already cooked.
I have served this with my favorite mashed white beans again. I feel like it is time for me to write a recipe for this mashed white beans because it is so easy and goes so well with everything. Anyway, I hope this turkey kielbasa stir fry brings some joy to blow the Monday blues away.