While living in Spain, I dated a man whose best attribute was his grandmother's cooking. She had been a naturopath and good heavens, she made Sunday lunches an absolute joy! I remember once when I had a cold, my-once-upon-a-time prince pulled a couple of containers of her "Avena" from the freezer, thawed them out and served them for dinner. I was never able to procure the recipe from his grandmother, but this is a pretty good approximation. I love the density of this soup--its heartiness--and the fabulous mix of spices that recalls the melange of cultures that have contributed to Spain's cuisine. One might almost forget that oats can be used for savory cooking. What a fantastic reminder! —nycnomad
Test Kitchen Notes
The aroma of the unusual spice pairings with the olives (I used a green unpitted olive, as I couldn’t find arbequinas) smelled absolutely intoxicating. I ran short of green beans, so I used kale to very good effect; in fact, you could use many different vegetables in this. The groats swelled up considerably and provided a chowder-like consistency to the broth. This is a comforting and hearty cool-weather soup and it makes a lot! I would definitely make it again, perhaps reducing the amount of groats and increasing the spices. —Lynn D.
Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a deep cooking pot.
Coarsely chop the onion, garlic, and celery. Add them to the pot and sauté over a medium flame until the vegetables have softened. Stir frequently.
Cut the chicken legs in half at the knee joint and add to the pot. Sauté until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
Coarsely chop the carrots and add to the pot. Add the 4 cups of water and let simmer over a medium flame. When it comes to a boil, turn down the flame and allow to simmer until the chicken has cooked through and the meat is falling off the bone, about 1 hour.
Remove the bones and cut any remaining meat from them. Add the meat back to the broth and discard the bones.
Chop the tomatoes into eighths. Snip off the ends of the beans and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Add both to the soup.
Rinse the groats in cold water 3 times, or until the water drains away clear. Drain and then add them to the soup base along with 2 more cups of water.
Add the spices and the olives.
Cook, covered and over a low flame, for an hour before adding the salt.
Add salt to suit your taste. Feel free to modify the vegetables and spices as well. I happen to like more cumin, and sometimes I add mushrooms at the very end. This is sort of an anything goes recipe. ;)