The writing is on the wall. It's mid-October, and Halloween is just around the corner. Before we know it we'll be talking turkey and baking Christmas treats. In this quiet before the cookie storm, before we're up to our ears in stuffings and puddings and reveling in the season of glorious eating and excess, let's take a moment to find our center – while we can still see it.
Here's a simple, healthy and nourishing soup that can be whipped up in about 30 minutes. It's a perfect foil to the approaching holiday pandemonium and celebratory sweets. Enjoy it now while the days are still quiet, and file it away as a healthy time-out for when we're sneaking loot from the kids' trick or treat bags and taste-testing Santa's cookies.
Chicken Soup with Farro and Shiitakes
Don’t leave out the shiitakes. They impart a luscious umami flavor to the stock, and fall is the time of year at the farmers market for mushrooms at their peak. Choose the smallest shiitakes you can find – they look great kept whole in the soup. Pearl barley may be substituted for the farro. Serves 4.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, trimmed, halved if large
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup farro or pearl barley 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
- Heat the oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it softens without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and mushrooms. Sauté until the carrots brighten in color and the mushrooms begin to release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cups stock, farro, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the farro is tender, about 25 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken and top off with additional stock if needed. Simmer until the chicken is heated through. Ladle into bowls. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.