This recipe is designed to be made in bulk. Recipe is based on 8 blocks to be divided into desired blocks at serving time. You can double or triple the amounts easily and then freeze in appropriate serving sizes for quick meals. Serve as a main entree or couple with zone snacks for a quick lunch. It is freezer/reheat friendly. Particularly good for lactating Moms. See end of recipe for additional tips and lacto-vegetarian version.
8 ounces skinless, deboned chicken breast (cooked or raw) minced
2 cups celery chopped fine
1 1/2 cups onion chopped fine
1 cup carrots chopped fine
2 cups canned roma tomatoes chopped (with or without liquid)
1/2 cup salsa (medium or hot) (Feel free to substitute 4 cups minced portobello mushrooms for salsa)
1 1/2 Tablespoons pearl barley (dry)
2 2/3 teaspoons olive oil
1 to 2 litres water
Salt/White or Red Pepper to taste
Finely minced garlic (1/2 teaspoon or to taste)
Soy Sauce -- 1 teaspoon or to taste (soy can replace salt)
1 low-sodium and MSG free vegetable or chicken bouillon cube
Cajun Spice to taste
Warm olive oil in a deep pot and add garlic if using. Add onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms and saute until almost transparent. Add tablespoons of water for saute process if the vegetables get too dry. When onion and celery start to become transparent, add chopped tomatoes and salsa. Add minced chicken. After a minute or two add water. Bring to a boil and then lower to simmer. Add desired seasonings. Simmer for 1/2 hour. Add barley and adjust seasonings to taste. Simmer for another 45 minutes. Soup is ready to serve when vegetables and barley reach desired tenderness. Measure yield of soup and divide into desired portions ( 4 or 2 blocks, etc.). If serving in smaller blocks, Zone snacks can be added for a more texture varied Zone meal. Please note that this soup is quite filling even for high-carb consuming non- Zoners. Fast eaters should remember to give the brain and stomach time to synchronize and notice that 'full' feeling. Enhanced Nutrition: reduce chicken by 1 ounce and substitute 1 ounce of anchovy (packed in water variety). Only those who can identify anchovy in Caesar Salad will object to this substitution...it does not yield a 'fishy' taste. Saute the anchovies with olive oil so it starts to melt and then start the saute process on the vegetables. The anchovies will melt away and no one other than the cook will be the wiser. For lactating Moms I do recommend minor adjustments in the vegetable quantities to allow for an extra block or so of barley (1/2 tablespoon = 1C). Something about barley water does wonders for milk production... I nursed three kids and lived on this soup while nursing. Yields lots of energy and lots of milk. Puree the soup, and it makes a great zone-friendly baby meal once individual ingredients have proven agreeable to baby...just go easy on the spicing. The original recipe for this soup comes from Northern Italy. My Great Grandma got it from her Mom and down it came to me. It is very kid friendly, and that is probably why it has endured. The original recipe does NOT use chicken. It is topped at serving time with grated Parmigianno Reggianno. Parmigianno Regianno appears to cost the earth...but it is well worth it and goes a very long way. A strong flavored Parmesan cheese, it is one of the longest-aged cheeses out on the market. The big bonus is that it is a rarity among hard cheeses. It is made with skim milk. The allowed ounce of hard cheese per block yields lots of flavor and less undesirable fat than most hard cheeses. Try the lacto-vegetarian version by eliminating the chicken and adding your protein blocks with the Parmigianno Regianno.