Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

This cool weather has got me itching for fall. And, with the help of some butternut squash soup I tracked down in the back of my cabinet, I created a warm dish full of autumnal flavor. I was kind of making the recipe up as I went along, so my measurements may be a bit off. But if you pay close attention to the risotto and taste frequently throughout the cooking process, this dish should turn out deliciously!

Butternut Squash Barley Risotto with Chicken

  • 2 cups butternut squash soup (I used V8 brand)
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • small bunch sage (about 15 leaves)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • salt and pepper

1. Combine soup and stock in small pot and warm over low heat. Give occasional stirs to mix.
2. Heat olive oil in small pan. Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces, season with salt and pepper, and cook in olive oil.*
3. In large sauce pan, toast barley over medium heat for 2 minutes. Once fragrant, add chopped garlic and about 1/2 cup of soup-stock mixture. Stir barley until liquid is fully evaporated, then add another 1/2 cup of liquid. Continue to repeat this process over medium to medium-low heat, stirring constantly and adjusting heat to prevent burning.
4. When chicken is done cooking, remove from heat.
5. Just before the final 1/2 of liquid is about to be added to the barley risotto mixture, add chicken, cinnamon, and finely chopped sage.
6. Mix in Parmesan cheese until fully incorporated.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste** and serve with sprinkling of Parmesan over top. Enjoy!

*This dish can easily be made vegetarian by substituting or completely doing away with the chicken and chicken stock. Some potential delicious chicken alternatives include sweet potato, tofu, butternut squash, or anything else you desire!
**Be sure to taste before adding salt as both soup and stock are high in salt content.

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