Chicken barley soup, 'krupnik', is a traditional Polish dish, satisfying and simple to make, perfect to enjoy during colder months. It is made using pearl barley, root vegetables and a small amount of porcini mushrooms.
In a pot heat up 2 tablespoons of oil, add the bay leaf, onions and cook gently for 3 minutes until softened. Add the barley, stir, then move the mixture to the side and add the chicken (if using). Cook for 2 minutes on each side.
Add half of the stock, stir, cover and bring to the boil. In the meantime place the porcini in a small bowl, add a bit of water and gently rub with your fingertips to remove any grit. Rinse then soak the porcini (for a few minutes) in 3 tablespoons of water while you prepare the vegetables.
Add the chopped vegetables, the rest of the stock as well as the porcini (along with the water from soaking) into the pot. Cover, bring to the boil again, then simmer gently for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables and barley are fully cooked.
Remove from the heat and carefully take the chicken out of the pot. Separate the meat form the bone and place the meat back in the pot. Add finely chopped fresh herbs, adjust the seasoning as necessary and serve.
Chicken: Use either 1 skinless chicken leg or 2 chicken thighs. I do not recommend using chicken breast as it will become tough after prolonged cooking.
If you use chicken with bone remove the bones before serving the soup.
Make it vegetarian: You can easily make this soup vegetarian simply by not using the chicken. Follow the rest of the steps as per instructions.
Extras: Serve this soup with either finely chopped dill or parsley (or a bit of both). I also like to add a drizzle of soy sauce for a richer flavour. This soup is often served with a dollop of sour cream.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days. This soup might thicken after a while so add a splash of water and adjust the seasoning if needed.