Featuring common ingredients like potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery, this tomatoey barley vegetable soup is nothing fancy, but so comforting and satisfying. It’s also quite filling, and a good choice for soup-and-salad or soup-and-sandwich meals with lighter accompaniments. Since this is at heart a tomato soup, a simple vegan grilled cheese sandwich is a perfect partner. For a heartier yet still simple meal, serve with veggie burgers and a tossed salad.
Kids (and picky eaters of all ages) just might go for this soup, but may not appreciate the strong flavor of fresh dill. If that’s the case, pass around a small bowl of chopped fresh dill to stir into individual portions of soup as well as using it as a garnish.
One nice bonus you get from barley soups is that it thickens a lot as it stands, giving you even more servings from the initial batch, which makes it quite a bargain! Simply thin it with a bit of water (though you want to keep a nice thick consistency) and add a bit more seasoning to your taste. Additional dill never hurts, either. Recipe adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced, with leaves
- 1 cup pearl or pot barley, rinsed
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 large potato, scrubbed (if organic) or peeled and diced
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash)
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, or more for garnish
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over low heat until golden.
- Add the garlic, barley, carrots, potato, celery, bay leaves, and 8 cups water. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The barley and vegetables should be nearly done.
- Add the tomatoes continue to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the barley and vegetables are done.
- Adjust the consistency with more water if necessary and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the dill and serve.
This soup will thicken considerably as it stands, especially refrigerated leftovers. Adjust the liquid and seasonings as needed, but allow the soup to remain thick.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 142Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 109mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 4g
Barley, one of the most ancient of cultivated grains, is most commonly available in the pearl variety. This is the kind you’ll find in supermarkets. Searching a bit further afield, you might find pot barley in natural foods stores and food co-ops. Pot barley is less refined, retaining more of the natural fiber and bran. Both kinds are mild-tasting, pleasantly chewy, and versatile.
Basic cooked barley: Use 3 cups water per 1 cup of pearl barley or 3 1/2 cups water per 1 cup of pot barley. Rinse the barley well in a fine sieve. Bring water to a rapid simmer in a medium saucepan, stir in the barley, and return to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 35 to 45 minutes. Here are a few ideas for using it:
- Barley is, of course, a classic soup grain. Add uncooked barley to long-simmering soups like the one above for extra heartiness. Add cooked barley to cold summer soups for a satisfying texture. It’s especially good in cold cucumber and potato soups.
- Use barley as a change of pace from rice in pilafs and casseroles.
- Barley is a fantastic base for marinated grain salads, combined with beans and/or raw vegetables.