I love making soup. I think the primary motivation for roasting any meat on the bone for me is the pile of lovely, sticky, flavorsome bones that I know I'll have left at the end of the meal. I don't know if it's nature or nurture, but it certainly came from my Austrian grandmother, bless her, who always had a pot of stock bubbling gently on the stove when we came to visit. I love how making the stock uses up all the old vegetables and bits of gravy that might otherwise have gone to waste. I love the way the smell of good roast meat and vegetables fills the house for hours as it simmers. And I love the variety of delicious soups that are the end product. And now that I'm on a diet, well, I also love that it's hot, savory, filling and low in calories.
It really is the perfect food.
The bones from my roast pheasant yielded a lovely rich stock, but if you don't happen to have recently roasted a pheasant you could easily use a nice dark turkey stock with dark meat or even chicken. The main thing is that you want dark meat to stand up to the cabbage and barley. A good grinding of black pepper is essential here, spicing up the bland barley and challenging the cabbage and roasted meat. As the WW site does not have pheasant legs in its recipe builder, I used chicken drumsticks to calculate the points: a measly 1.5 points per bowl. At that rate, you could have seconds - or splurge on a nice piece of crusty bread with a dab of butter - and still be on target to lose weight.
Pheasant, Barley and Cabbage Soup (serves 4)
If you are not on a diet, and want to impart maximum flavor to the soup, you might want to add a couple of tablespoons of butter to this dish and use it to sauté the onions before adding the stock. However, I didn't bother and the onions cooked just fine and I saved a few points. The soup was nevertheless delicious!
1.5 l stock (pheasant, turkey or chicken)
60g dried pearl barley
1/2 a small Napa cabbage
2 small onions
4 chestnut mushrooms
70g roast pheasant meat (drumsticks) or roasted turkey or chicken legs
1 sprig of thyme
Heat the stock until it reaches a low boil. In the meantime, prepare the vegetables. Peel the onions, cut them in half lengthwise and cut in very thin strips. Clean and peel (if necessary) the carrots and cut in thin coins. Wash the mushrooms and slice them. Add the barley, carrots, onion, meat and thyme to the stock and simmer for about 40 minutes. When the barley is tender, taste for salt and pepper - it will probably need a good grinding of each. Shred the cabbage in thin bite-sized pieces and add it to the soup. Cover and cook another five minutes or until the cabbage is wilted and bright green. Serve immediately; it will be delicious reheated the next day but it is even better when the cabbage is newly cooked and luminously green.