Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vegetable Barley and Bean Soup

 The summer is definitely coming to a close and I honestly don't know where it went. It seems like yesterday that we were anxiously awaiting our wedding in July and frolicking through Italy in August and now it's almost October. Damn, I want the summer back. So you can see why I'm squeezing every last bit out of the summer vegetable harvest, yet using it ways that will warm us up as we start feeling that autumn chill in the air. So here's this soup.

I'm so blessed to live within walking distance of an absolutely amazing farmers market that takes place every Saturday. It's become our weekend tradition to get up early and head on over to the market to pick up our fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs, and bread for the week. I love knowing that I'm purchasing the most wholesome food I can buy while also supporting our local farmers who work so hard. This past Saturday, I picked up beautiful cherry tomatoes, green beans, and fresh sage and thyme (among many other things) and figured I'd make a nice soup. We really enjoyed how it came out.

It was my first time using pearled barley in a soup and I think it was a great addition, although you could totally use brown rice or wheat berries. The white wine gives it extra flavor and all of the vegetables and beans make this soup filling enough to be a meal itself. And the leftovers were great, although you may need to add some water or broth to the leftovers because the barley soaked up a lot of broth. So if you're like me and not ready for the summer to end quite yet, here's a nice little soup to gradually welcome autumn. Well, to look on the bright side, autumn equals apple and squash season! How exciting!

Vegetable Barley and Bean Soup (adapted from Green Kitchen Stories)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrots, chopped into thin rings
2 large celery stalks, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
juice from half a lemon
1 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable broth (use more if soup becomes too thick)
1 cup pearled barley
1 zucchini, diced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups fresh green beans
1 1/2 cups cooked cannelloni beans (I use dried cannellini beans that I've soaked overnight, drained, then    cooked in fresh water until softened, but you can also use a can, just make sure the beans are rinsed well.)
sea salt, to taste

1. In a large pot, cook onions in olive oil with a pinch of salt until they are nicely softened. Then, add garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaves, sage leaves, and thyme leaves. Cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Then add the white wine and stir for another 2 minutes.

2. Add vegetable stock and let simmer for 15 minutes. Then, add barley, zucchini, and tomatoes. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add green beans and cooked (or canned) cannelloni beans and let simmer for about 8 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt. I used about a teaspoon of salt, but it depends on how salty your vegetable broth is. Serve the soup drizzled with olive oil and perhaps a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

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