Mommy, I LOVE this!” These are musical words, and this is the song that I heard when I served the “Chicken Barley Soup,” from the October 2011 issue of Everyday Food, to my youngster. Such a flavorful broth, full of moist chicken, magnificent carrots, and perfect thyme. Barley’s texture is always phenomenal and crowd-pleasing.

Another aspect of this soup’s greatness is how quickly you can put it together; you’ll devote the most time to chopping the carrots. My Dutch oven, once again, was my superstar. I seasoned my chicken pieces with 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. I used vegetable-bouillon broth instead of chicken broth. The barley was tender after 15 minutes of simmering. I was thrilled to throw fistfuls of spinach into the soup at the end. What a triumph! I added another 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the pot, then we proceeded to joyfully slurp.

Next, I was able to overcome my phobia of the French-ness of Jacques Pepin’s Gougeres, and successfully prepare these perfectly airy, toasted cheese puffs. Indeed, you need to respect the required steps of this recipe: the development of the “choux paste,” the grating of the cheeses, the parchment paper, the meticulous gougeres formation. I made 36 puffs with this recipe. Their crispy, salty tops were a winning twinkle. The recipe suggests to “serve lukewarm or at room temperature with drinks.” With drinks, indeed.

PRICES
Carrots (4) = $1.60
Onion (1) = .63¢
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (1.47 lbs.) = $7.92
Quick-Cooking Barley (.57 lb.) = .47¢
Baby Spinach (5 oz.) = $3.27
Emmenthal Cheese (.63 lb.) = $5.36

RECIPES: barley = love; cheese puffs = delight
PREP TIMES:
enjoy your soup after less than an hour of prep and cooking; calmly devote at least 90 minutes to the gougeres
TASTES:
barley adds its fortifying flavor to a soup broth that’s enhanced by sweet carrots and fragrant thyme; airy puffs of toasted cheese have crispy salted tops

Next time, I will prepare the “Slow-Roasted Turkish Lamb Stew,” from thekitchn.com. See my comfort food when you come back to my site soon.