Just a few days ago I was gushing over the beautiful, spring like weather. Today, not too much to gush about. Gray skies, raw temps and rain. But it is New England after all; the weather changes with a blink of an eye.
A hearty pot of soup is perfect for a day like this; to warm you from the inside out. I decided to try a Bean and Barley Soup. Barley is one of my personal favorite grains. It has a mild nutty flavor and a "meaty" bite. It's one of the world's oldest grains and perfect in salads, stir fries, soups and even cereal.
The soup also has a generous amount of spinach, another family favorite. Spinach is on the Dirty Dozen list so be sure to buy this organic.
From EatingWell: January/February 2013
Yield: 4 servings, 2 1/2 cups each
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
1 1/2 cups cooked barley along with the broth in Step 2.
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
1 5-ounce package baby spinach (6 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit if vegan)
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Stir the mashed and whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese and pepper.
I served this along with vegan drop biscuits. My husband declared this is his favorite soup!