Lord Of The Rings Online (LOTRO from here) is a middle-earth massive multiplayer role playing game (MMORPG). As most games of the genre, it includes various kinds of crafting as in-game activities. Considering the hobbits love for all things edible, it’s no surprise cooking is one of the available crafts. One consequence of this is that as i play, cook and eat in virtual middle-earth, i soon enough find myself craving some of the virtual meals my hobbit prepared.

Thus, every now and then, my cooking is directly inspired by LOTRO, which has several perks:
– it satisfies my craving.
– it has me learning a new recipe every now and then.
– being ‘middle-earth food’, it gains additional credit with the kids.

The Chicken and Barley soup recipe below is thus one of those things i owe to Tolkien. With a few exceptions, i’ve never been much into soups, but this one happened to catch my attention as weather was gradually shifting towards winter. It’s trivial to make and goes down a treat on a cold evening. In game, it provides a bonus to fear resistance. After eating it in the real world i wasn’t scared, so it works.

In game, to craft a Chicken Barley soup , you will need:

  • green onions
  • a bundle of winter barley
  • some chicken stock
  • optionally, a sprig of parsley

In my adaptation, i went for a large yellow onion rather than scallions, seasoned with thyme rather than parsley, and added a few carrots i had left.

For about 6 servings (less if hobbits involved)

– chicken stock (enough to fill about 2/3 of the pot)
– 3 fresh chicken fillets
– 2 or 3 carrots
– 1 large onion
– 1 cup of pearled barley
– thyme

Dice the chicken and the carrots. Slice the onion into long thin pieces, and fry them in some butter until they turn golden brown. Throw in the chicken and carrots, season with the thyme, and continue to fry for about a minute, stirring occasionally. Pour the chicken stock, and add the barley. Bring to the boil and maintain it for about 10 minutes. Salt to convenience. Finally, cover and let simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Enjoy.

Note that middle-earth probably doesn’t have instant chicken stock in cubes. For increased authenticity, prepare this soup on the day after eating a roast chicken, and make your stock from the bones and leftovers. Simply remove the remaining skin and fat bits, and break up the bones in a pot. Fill with cold water, bring to the boil, then simmer for at least an hour. Remove the bones, strain the stock, and you’re done.