On Sunday I got to break in my brand new fancy-pants Crockpot! It was a very exciting day. I couldn’t wait to pull that lid off and sample the contents, but I had to endure hours and hours of waiting, because as you know, Crockpots don’t cook things fast. They cook them slow… which is why they’re also known as slow cookers (whoever thought that name up should definitely get bonus points).
So… are you ready? Ready for the first-ever edition of this game that features my brand-new crockpot? Strap on your knee and elbow pads, because it’s time to play!
WHAT’S IN THE CROCKPOT?
CHICKEN AND BARLEY SOUP is in the Crockpot!
My mother has frequently made this recipe, and since I wanted to inaugurate my Crockpot on the last full day of her visit, I thought it would be fitting. Of course, I modified the recipe significantly, as I tend to do, so it’s not exactly the same, but it is a kindred spirit.
I ate my mother’s version of this a few times before I learned that her recipe actually came from the side of a box of Quaker barley. It’s still on the side of the box, and I know that for a fact. That’s because we shopped for ingredients at a specialty supermarket that doesn’t carry many national brands, so we had to call my Dad in Michigan, who went into the cupboard, found the barley, and dictated the recipe to us over the phone. And then I started modifying.
(I just found the original recipe online… wish I’d thought to look online a few days ago, it would’ve saved my Dad some time!)
Here’s what I ended up with.
Start with three chicken breasts, chopped into cubes.
They go into the bottom of the Crockpot. Then add 2 large tomatoes, 1/2 an onion, and 2 stalks of celery. Dice them all up so they’re roughly uniform in size.
Now it’s time to add some canned goods: 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed); 1 can whole corn kernels (drained); 1 jar salsa (pick your favorite – I went with roasted garlic, medium heat).
Next, the barley. The store didn’t have packaged barley, but it had it in the bulk food section. You need 1 cup, which I estimated at the store. My estimate was spot on!
Finally, some liquid and spices. 14 ounces of chicken stock (I used low-sodium); 2-4 cups of water, depending on how thick or thin you want the soup. Keep in mind the barley absorbs a lot of liquid. I went with 3 cups. Then, 1 tablespoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of cumin.
Time to fire up the Crockpot! I set it for 8 hours on Low. Because my Crockpot has a built-in timer, I knew exactly how much time was left throughout the day. Look, only 7 hours, 51 minutes left!
If you don’t have a Crockpot, you could simmer it for a good long while in a big pot on the stove, but I would cook the chicken first, before you add anything else.
After 8 hours, it was piping hot and ready to go. Here’s how it looks under better lighting than my kitchen counter provides:
My mom and I ate it with a 100-calorie Rosemary and Olive Oil flatbread. Que delicioso!
The salsa and spices provided a nice kick, and the flavors were complex and intense.
Bonus: Plenty of leftovers – I filled 4 single-serving containers! Two went in the fridge, and two in the freezer.
Keep it up, David!