As the nights get cooler, take comfort in a steaming bowl of this hearty soup. The jap pumpkin almost melts into the broth and gives the whole pot a cheery yellow hue. You feel better just looking at it! Then all you need is some crusty bread and a good red and dinner is done. I know the English mustard sounds like a strange addition but it adds a lovely complexity to the flavour of the soup. Try it.
To make an equally delicious vegetarian version, substitute the chicken for a can of chickpeas
Chicken Soup with Pumpkin, Mushroom & Barley
Top half of a chicken (i.e. breasts and wings)
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
½ bulb fennel, diced
8 mushrooms, sliced
¼ jap pumpkin, cut into pieces
1/3 cup barley
hot English mustard to serve
Heat 2 tbspn oil in a soup pot and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove and set aside. Saute carrot, celery and fennel until fennel is translucent. Add mushroom and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add pumpkin and stir. Return chicken to pot and cover with enough vegetable stock to cover chicken. Bring to the boil. Add barley and turn heat down to low, let simmer for at least one hour.
Remove chicken, cool, shred meat and return the meat to the pot. Check seasoning and add salt or pepper to your taste.
To serve, ladel into deep bowls and stir through ½ tspn hot English mustard per person.