recipes selected by Jonnie Legér
Transatlantic Press, United Kingdom, 2011
Cooking on page 32
This cookbook came home one day with Graeme, who lives in the flat at our house. He’s the saint who minds our house, beasts and garden when we’re off on our travels, but is quite pleased when we’re home because I do a lot of the cooking. He never knows what’s for dinner.
He also likes the idea of cooking on page 32, so picked up two Food Lovers’ cookbooks for $10. I’ve cooked on page 32 in both books and this one was first. The other one was a sensational hot and sour shrimp soup.
Swiss barley soup
1 tbsp butter
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3/4 cup / 125 g celery root (celeriac), peeled and finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
2 leeks, finely sliced
4–5 Savoy cabbage leaves, finely sliced, plus some to garnish
scant 1/2 cup / 80 g barley
1 bay leaf
8 cup / 2 litres chicken broth (stock)
salt and freshly milled pepper
approx 12 oz / 350 g chicken legs or thighs
4 oz / 125 g smoked bacon, chopped
4 oz / 125 g smoked pork, chopped into bite-size pieces
Heat the butter in a large saucepan. Fry the vegetables in the butter, add the barley and sauté.
Meanwhile, peel the onion and push the clove and bay leaf into it. Pour the chicken broth (stock) into the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Add the onion, chicken, bacon and pork, cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Remove the chicken and onion from the pan. Cut the chicken meat away from the bone and return the meat to the soup. Discard the onion.
Season to taste and serve garnished with strips of Savoy cabbage.
How it played out
Ingredients and cooking times were the challenges here, but not big issues.
I went to five supermarkets and green grocers before I gave up looking for celeriac. No worries. I substituted with two celery sticks and a 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed.
Smoked bacon and pork also proved elusive, so I used 125 grams of lean bacon, 125 grams of double smoked ham and 125 grams of smoked bacon bones. For chicken, I used skinless, boneless thighs that I trimmed of fat and diced before cooking.
I pushed the clove and bay leaf into the onion (not so easy with a leaf), but both floated out during the cooking. I fished out the leaf, but never found the clove. Fished out the bacon bones too.
Oh, and the timing. I couldn’t imagine simmering this for 2 hours, so turned it off after 40–50 minutes, which was plenty. I garnished with snipped chives from the garden.
Good thing this was on page 32. I mightn’t have tried it otherwise.
It’s smoky depth of flavour and medley of veggies, barley and smoked meats make it truly delicious. A real winner, and sure to make an appearance as winter approaches in Australia.
If this is an indication of the calibre of the recipes in this book, I’ll be cooking from plenty of other pages.