A hearty soup that has great flavor from the homemade stock and the delicious flavor base.  I used sage and thyme which layers on an earthy flavor to the broth and stock.  I loved using barley as it holds up well  to the other ingredients in the soup.  If you are pressed for time, you can use canned cannellini beans, but I think starting with dry beans is much better.

Ingredients:

for stock:

  • 3 1/2-4 lb whole chicken
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 5 stems parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 10-12 cups water

for soup:

  • shredded chicken from stock
  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 medium onion, fine dice
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 medium carrots, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 pint san marzano or cherry tomatoes, small dice
  • 1 bunch tuscan kale, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 1 bunch sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  • 1 rind of parmigiano reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • parsley for garnish, if desired
  • shaved parm for garnish, optional

Directions:

for stock:

Place all ingredients for the stock in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Add water so that it nearly covers the chicken.  Bring mixture to a boil, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.  Strain the stock through a sieve and reserve both chicken and stock.  Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and shred the chicken to add to soup.

for soup:

If using dried beans, the night before, soak beans in a covered pot filled with water according to package directions (this will reduce cooking time significantly). In a heavy bottom pot (I love my enamel pot for this use), heat olive oil and add onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, celery, thyme and sage.  Sauté for about 5 -10 minutes on medium heat until fragrant and tomatoes are breaking down and releasing their juices.  Add reserved stock to vegetables along with soaked beans and parmesan rind.  Bring to a boil and cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, then add pearled barley and simmer for another 20 minutes until beans are tender and cooked.  Remove parmesan rind, add kale and reserved shredded chicken.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle soup in bowls, garnish with some parsley and shaved parmesan if desired.  Enjoy!