Over the last few years, I’ve made quite a few soups. Chicken Noodle and Broccoli Parmesan are two of my favorites. However, while I love the warmth, textures, and flavors of soup, I dislike heavy, cream-laden soups, and one bowl of “healthy” canned soup never seems to quite fill me up. Plus, I always find it difficult to carve out over an hour of prep/cook time, and it’s quite rare that I’ll have all of the ingredients on hand for one particular soup. Hence the reason why I was very intrigued by Cooking Light’s hearty bean and barley soup recipe. Countless nights I’ve searched my cookbooks and consulted other blogs to find a light yet hearty soup, that‘s simple to prepare and comes together quickly. Many weeknights, I just don’t have the energy to slave away in the kitchen! When I saw this recipe, I knew I could recreate it in no time. Plus, it was easy to follow and didn’t take more than 30 minutes from start to finish. Since this soup consists mostly of staple ingredients, I had most everything right in my cupboard…I bet you do too…take a peek!
Bean and Barley Soup
7 cups fat free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (19-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ can cannennelli beans— (this wasn’t in the original recipe, I just wanted extra beans!)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery—(I omitted this and subbed in parsnips instead!)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained— (I used canned tomato sauce, I didn’t have diced on hand.)
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
10 cup torn spinach leaves (about 4 ounces) —(I used frozen: de-thawed and dried it out!)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1) Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 15 minutes. Drain through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids.
2)Measure 1 cup beans, and mash with a fork in a small bowl. Reserve the remaining whole beans.
3)Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions, carrot, and parsnips; cook 4 minutes.
4) Add broth mixture, mashed beans, whole beans, tomatoes (or tomato sauce), and barley; bring to a boil.
5) Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and black pepper; cook 5 minutes or until barley is tender. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.
Simple, satisfying, and full of flavor, I loved it. Like I did, you can customize this soup to the ingredients you have on hand. Any type of beans and root vegetables would work. I enjoyed this soup with my lunch at work all last week, steaming hot with a side of Melba sea salt crackers for dipping. Enjoy!