It has taken me about 18 hours to make barley hen soup, but this is definitely one of the most interesting soup experiences I have had in a while. I decided to make the stock from a stewing hen I bought for crazy cheap. Just one thing – I had no idea how to make stock from a stewing hen. So – google to the rescue.
It’s like making any stock, except that in this case, the hen is a tough old laying hen who, after a joyful life of eating bugs, hanging out with other hens, and laying eggs (don’t ruin it for me), is now only fit to be simmered all day. So I wedged her into my largest cooking pot with some water and spent the day occasionally throwing carrot peelings into the bath. After many, many hours, and many, many seasonings later, I had a pot of seriously delicious stock and some bird meat that was stringy but tasty. I stuck the entire thing into my fridge and made it a plan for day 2.
Today was day 2. I strained the stock, removed all the edible meat, sharing some with Max, and added cooked barley, veggies, and the hen meat back into the pot.
The end result is absolutely delicious. Best of all, there isn’t a single added ingredient that I didn’t simmer, sauté, or chop myself. I can name everything in the pot. Except the hen. I don’t know her name.
Some things I have learned in my barley hen soup journey:
Don’t break apart the hen. I mean, you CAN, but why would you? You’ll need to lift it out later any way. Don’t make extra steps if you dont need to.
You can totally undercook a hen. A few hours in, I tested some of the meat. It was like chewing on unflavoured chicken jerky. More is more when it comes to cooking a hen.
When you add the hen meat back in to the finished product, chop it really really small. The consistency leaves a lot to be reckoned with. You’ll spend a long time chewing if you don’t reduce it to small, small pieces.
Other than that, this was an entirely delicious foray into cooking very inexpensive poultry. I’d recommend it.
PS: Some websites recommended I use an Instant Pot to cook my hen. I didn’t do that because I really like the feel of a cast iron pot when I am making stock. No reason why. I just like how it feels. However, if you click either the link to the Instant Pot or the cast iron pot and buy them from Amazon, I get a small dividend which helps me to pay for Max’s dog treats.