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.
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
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
How to Make It
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.
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.
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.
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.