Wednesday morning my super-smart phone told me it was 9 degrees outside. BRrrrrrrrr! I discovered something about myself recently. When I go out in this type of weather, I unconsciously pull my shoulders up near my ears, trying to trap the warmth in and prevent the wind chill from getting inside my coat. Ya know how I found out? It’s not so great for the shoulders and neck. Oweeeee! But, hey, it gives me a whole other reason to get to yoga regularly. See what I just did there? I found the silver lining
Which brings me to today’s topic…soup. The silver lining on a freezing cold day, for sure! It warms me up from the inside out. It seems lately I always have a bowl of chicken stock in the fridge just waiting for its casting call, and plenty of veggies hanging around as well. Rather than repeat my favorite Chicken and Rice Soup recipe AGAIN, I decided to mix it up with some barley and peas, and add some biscuits on the side that would pacify the one kid who doesn’t like any of my soups. (Oh well, she’s only 6. She’ll come around).
This combo was simply divine. I love the hearty, chewy texture of barley and getting in whole grains for the whole family makes me feel like I accomplished something good. The addition of a little ground thyme made the soup smell oh-so-delicious, and the biscuits were the perfect addition. Mark and I both left the table totally stuffed – er, I mean satisfied.
I beg and implore you, do not bother to roll out the biscuit dough. Just go with the smart option, and drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the lightly greased baking sheet. I thought it would look “prettier” if I rolled them out and cut them into round biscuits. Silly, silly girl. What a ridiculous mess that was! If I wasn’t covered fingertip to forearm in flour and sticky dough, I would’ve snapped a photo for you. You see, I totally forgot, for the moment, one of my favorite principles, taught to me by my amazing friend, Vanessa, when we shared a job (and a brain) during our time at the Mass. Department of Public Health.
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Duh. You guys don’t need pretty biscuits, what was I thinking? You just want good-tasting stuff. Anyhow, thought I’d pass on that little tip. These biscuits are really quick and easy to make, and totally worth it! Use whatever type of cheese you want, but make it something strong like pepper jack, or parmesan, or like me, a really sharp cheddar. A little bit adds a lot of flavor, limiting the amount you need to add, thus limiting the fat. Brilliant, no?
Chicken and Barley Soup
8 c. chicken broth
2 c. cooked, chopped chicken (I used a 1.3# package of chicken cutlets, boiled and chopped)
1 cup dry quick-cooking barley, cooked separately according to package directions
2 medium carrots chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 – 3/4 ground thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1) Ahead of time, prepare chicken and barley. Peel and chop carrots (or use last night’s leftovers!)
2) Combine all ingredients (broth through thyme) in large 4-qt saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, and more thyme as desired.
Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted from Cooking Light Five Star Recipes: The Best of 10 Years, copyright 1996
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus one teaspoon chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk (or 3/4 cup 1% milk with 1 teaspoon vinegar added)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (loosely packed, not firmly)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
1) Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender (or two knives) until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
2) Add buttermilk and stir just until moistened. Gently fold in shredded cheese.
3) Lightly grease cookie sheet with pan spray. Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto sheet, about 12 total.
4) Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes, or until golden (bottoms will brown before top, so keep an eye on the edges)
Soup’s on! I hope you enjoy.