Comfort Soup

I grew up in a Kurdish household so my mother cooked mostly Kurdish foods. Now as a kid, sometimes I got tired of eating Kurdish food all the time but now as an adult...those kinds of foods are my comfort foods. They remind me of walking in the door after a long day at school and seeing my mom in the kitchen. All the burners going at once. Rice. Beans. Soup. Chicken in the oven. She could cook 5-6 dishes at once without a sweat. She is the one who taught me about organization in the kitchen and how to make sure all your dishes were ready at the same time. She also taught me how to throw in another dish for the next day. If you're going to be in the kitchen for might as well throw in another dish so you can relax a bit the next day by serving leftovers. She often made a barley soup that we all loved and could heat up for days. She would always tell us how good it was for us...High fiber...High protein...but as kids...we just thought it tasted good...especially in those cold Ohio winters.

I make a soup that reminds me of several of her dishes, incorporating rice, lentils and barley with chicken legs because these are items she used a lot. If you have a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean market near you, you can buy a premixed package of rice, lentils and barley.  If you can't find this, you can just use equal amounts of each item to make the 2 cups necessary for the soup. I make this soup and freeze leftovers for quick hearty meals on a chilly day.

Avesta's Comfort Soup
For soup:
2 cups rice, lentil and barley mix (Rinsed)
8 cups water
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1-2 tbsp sea salt (start with 1 and add to taste)
For chicken:
2-4 chicken legs
Sprinkle each leg with salt, pepper and paprika
1/2 white onion diced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups water

In a large stockpot, add water and rice, lentils and barley and seasonings. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. After boiling for a minute or two, turn heat to low, cover pot and cook chicken legs.

Heat coconut oil and add chicken legs to the pan. Allow the legs to nicely sear before turning. Once both sides are seared, add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion and garlic just until soft and slightly golden brown. Add the two cups of water and bring to a boil. You are creating a quick stock so allow to boil for just about 5 minutes then add chicken and stock to you soup pot. Stir and cover. Cook on low from 45 minutes to an hour. Keep stirring occasionally and once your rice, lentils and barley are soft, your soup is ready. Taste before serving to see if you need to add more salt. If you like it spicier add more cayenne.

I love serving this soup with fresh diced tomatoes and green onion on top. It is also great with a plop of sour cream or Greek yogurt on top. This soup is low fat and very high in fiber and protein. You can skip the barley if you are on a totally gluten free diet, though barley is not high in gluten, it does contain some gluten.