It’s hard to imagine why/when you would prefer regular chicken soup to the complexity of this “special occasion” soup… and frankly, if you aren’t already adding some type of bitter greens to every one of your soups now, you will after you try this. Escarole is the key here (pronounced, “shka-dole”), but a dear chef-friend of mine recently suggested swiss chard in its place! To me, that sounds like a fantastic idea (thank you, Lucie!) and one upon which I will play in another post.
This is one of my favorite soups. My mom usually makes it as an appetizer at Thanksgiving, without the beef… in that case, it’s Mushroom Barley Soup. It pairs so beautifully with my sausage stuffed mushrooms, you could forget all about the turkey. This year, we skipped the soup, and I made it following Christmas instead. I added the leftover rib roast from Christmas and called it “dinner.” Soup represents, to me, the magic of cooking. It’s as close as you can come to making something fantastic out of next to nothing (water, salt, seasoning, a few humble vegetables, leftover meat, and dried grain), and that something will fill your kitchen with warmth and aroma and happiness like you wouldn’t believe. I challenge you to try it and tell me it’s not magic.