Husband travels sometimes in his job and he often jokingly says to me, "I'm traveling. It's your break." I know that many consider the times their spouses travel to be incredibly trying and difficult; in contrast, I do not. Usually his travel means that after days with the Children, the nights are all mine. I can catch up up on email, edit college application essays which is work that I love, and blog about books and food, two of my passions. When Husband is away, I have at my disposal many hours in the evening where I can spend the minutes any which way I choose. It is a wonderful luxury to have that kind of time at my fingertips and I cherish those quiet evenings doing the things I love most. Mostly, I do not miss Husband when he is away.
However, today I made some soup with leftover rotisserie chicken. I found in my cupboard some barley and decided to add it to the soup, if only to make it more substantial and to give a small bit of a chewy bite. Suddenly in my heard, I heard Husband's voice saying, "I love barley. I love the texture of it." Like the sharpest arrow to my heart, I missed him. Furthermore, he wasn't even going to get to eat the yummy soup and enjoy the little bits of chewy barley that he loves so much.
A quarter cup of barley made me feel a bit of emptiness where Husband's absence has left a space. I found myself missing him so much that it made me think that perhaps all my free time that I had been enjoying was perhaps merely a way for me to avoid acknowledging how much I actually just miss Husband. I'll have to fill that space with some soup. Perhaps this one.
Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup
3 carrots, cut into rounds
3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 onion diced
1 leftover Costco rotisserie chicken, a lot of the meat removed
2 quarts of chicken stock
1/4 cup of barley
1 14.5 oz can of tomatoes (I used diced, which I ended up pureeing. If you like a chunkier soup you can keep them whole, but my kids don't like whole cooked tomatoes.)
1 cup of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot over, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and cook for 7 minutes. Add chicken stock, leftover rotisserie chicken and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer. Add 1/4 cup of barley. Reduce heat and keep simmering for 20 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to cool a bit. Remove soup from heat. When chicken is cool enough to touch, remove remaining meat from bones and add to soup. Heat soup up again (if necessary) and add basil leaves. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve.