Smoky tomato, pearl barley and chicken soup with parmesan

Smoky tomato soup with shredded chicken, cavolo nero and cheese.
Smoky tomato soup with shredded chicken, cavolo nero and cheese. Photo: Katrina Meynink

I have made this with and without the ground chipotle powder so if you don't have it on hand and have zero motivation to schlep to the shops to seek it out, this soup is still well worth making.

Ingredients

500g chicken thighs

1L (4 cups) chicken stock

1 tbsp olive oil

4 shallots (French eschalots), finely sliced

1 tbsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed

½ tbsp ground chipotle powder

1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika

1 tbsp ground coriander

400g can crushed tomatoes

200g (1 cup) pearl barley, rinsed

1 cup cavolo nero leaves, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 cup finely grated pecorino or parmesan

dried chilli flakes, to serve

Method

1. Place the chicken in a medium saucepan. Pour over the chicken stock and bring to a rapid boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute before turning off the heat. Cover with a lid and set aside for at least 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add the olive oil to another saucepan and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the cumin, chipotle, paprika and coriander and cook for another minute until fragrant. Add the tomato and turn heat to a simmer, cook for the remaining time your chicken is resting, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove the chicken from the stock and place in a bowl. Using two forks, shred the meat and set aside. Return the saucepan of stock to the heat and add the pearl barley. Simmer for 20 minutes or until softened but still with some bite. Pour the pearl barley mixture into the tomato mixture along with the shredded chicken, and continue to cook for another 15-25 minutes or until the pearl barley is cooked through while still offering some resistance to the bite.

4. Remove from the heat and immediately add the cavolo nero. Give it a quick stir so the leaves soften, then divide soup between serving bowls. Season generously with salt and pepper. Top with parmesan and chilli flakes to taste, and serve.