Chicken and vegetable soup with gherkin “croutons”

My vegetarianism lasted about 6 weeks. It wasn’t the taste of meat that knocked me off the wagon, it was something much bigger and more exciting – my book-to-be. There is a very good chance that I may get it published soon. The point being that this book would not survive my vegetarianism. I had to make a choice so I made it: vegetarianism can wait. Something that I haven’t given up on is my monthly focus. March will be all about… decluttering. My home and my mind, one step at a time. Every day I declutter a tiny area of my flat – a shelf, a box, a draw… And how do I declutter my mind? Every morning I meditate and set my intention for the day. That’s all. Simple, like all the best things in life. And talking of simple…since I’m eating meat again I made this chicken and vegetable soup last night. We’d spent the whole day cooking for the homeless and needed something nourishing.
 I used 3 chicken drumsticks as well as leek, celery and carrots to make a stock. Then I added the pearl barley, cabbage and potatoes. You need to allow this to simmer until everything is soft now – about 40min – before frying the cubes of gherkin on a separate pan until golden. While they’re frying, season the soup with salt and black and white pepper until it tastes right to you. You may a tablespoon or two of brine from the gherkins too at this point. Turn the heat off. Pour the double cream into a bowl and whisk a tablespoon of soup into it, then another, then slowly start stirring the cream into the soup. Mix half the gherkin bits into it and use the remainder as “croutons”.
 

In Poland we have a much loved gherkin soup, which gave me the idea to use gherkins in this way. This is a very simple soup yet the gherkins give it a fun twist. They’re mini bombs of flavour in your mouth, exploding with a zesty juiciness and cutting through the the taste of  the other ingredients.

 
Ingredients (5-6 portions)
 
3 chicken drumsticks
100g pearl barley
2-3 potatoes
2 carrots, cubed
2 celery stick, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1/2 white cabbage 
Sea salt
White and black pepper
8-10 gherkins
Large pan of water