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Chicken Barley Soup with Walnut Pesto

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr
Yield 8 servings (serving size: 1 3/4 cups soup and 2 tablespoons pesto)
Habanero peppers are fiery hot, so handle them carefully. In this dish, you simply pierce the chile with a fork and float it in the broth as the soup cooks. Remove it with a slotted spoon before serving. If you prefer milder heat, use the same technique with a jalapeño.

Ingredients

  • Soup:
  • 5 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 (4-inch) portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1 (3-pound) whole chicken, skinned
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 4 1/2 quarts cold water
  • 8 ounces Swiss chard
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pesto:
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Nutrition Information

  • calories 416
  • caloriesfromfat 30 %
  • fat 13.7 g
  • satfat 3.1 g
  • monofat 5.6 g
  • polyfat 3.7 g
  • protein 41.8 g
  • carbohydrate 31.7 g
  • fiber 6.6 g
  • cholesterol 117 mg
  • iron 3.5 mg
  • sodium 641 mg
  • calcium 78 mg

How to Make It

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside.

  2. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Place chicken and thyme in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cover with 4 1/2 quarts cold water; bring to a simmer. Skim fat from surface; discard. Remove stems and center ribs from Swiss chard. Coarsely chop stems and ribs; reserve leaves. Add stems, ribs, and next 5 ingredients (through apple) to pan; bring to a simmer. Pierce habanero with a fork; add to pan. Cook 35 minutes or until chicken is done.

  3. Remove chicken from pan; cool slightly. Remove chicken from bones; chop meat. Discard bones, thyme sprig, and habanero. Strain barley mixture through a sieve over a bowl. Reserve 4 cups of broth for another use. Return remaining 6 cups broth to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes. Return chicken and barley mixture to pan; bring to a simmer. Add mushroom mixture. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper.

  4. To prepare pesto, cook Swiss chard leaves in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain. Place leaves, walnuts, and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Serve with soup.