While I was prepping and cooking this soup, I sang over and over, “Orange and greens, barley and beans, orange and greens, barley and beans…”
This could easily be a fall or winter soup by using canned or frozen veggies, but because these were all fresh from my garden, I like to think of it as a summer soup. Add a leafy green and it’s definitely a summer soup. So there. I was in need of an easy lunch recipe that would fill me up, and there’s nothing much easier than warming up a bowl of soup.
I love this sort of recipe because it makes use of whatever you’ve got in your pantry and produce drawer. You can chop up a tomato instead of using tomato paste. If you don’t have barley, brown rice or buckwheat would be good substitutes. Use a mix of fresh herbs from the garden or market. Any sort of bean– pinto, kidney, northern, canellini, even black bean– would work here. However, I recommend sticking with red lentils and not subbing in green lentils– the red ones are smaller, and when cooked in this soup sort of fall apart and help to thicken it.
Summer Barley Soup
1 c. dry beans or 1 can beans, any variety
1 c. uncooked barley
3 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 c. dry red lentils
1 T. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 c. sliced carrots
2 T. Italian seasoning (or a mixture of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and sage)
2 T. tomato paste
1 1/2 c. peas
1 1/2 c. green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
If using dry beans, set the beans to soak in 2 cups water overnight, or in a crockpot for 2-3 hours; do not drain the water. If using canned beans, rinse and drain.
In a large pot on medium-high, bring the 3 cups of stock to a boil; add barley and simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse the lentils, then add to the pot. Stir occasionally while simmering.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add carrots and garlic; stir and saute for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and seasoning and stir into carrots mixture; carefully mix in peas and green beans and saute for another 5 minutes.
Once lentils and soft, add the vegetable mixture and beans. (If used dry beans, add the retained soaking water; if canned, add an additional cup of stock or water.) Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how soft you want your veggies. I like to serve with bread- homemade pita shown above- or a fresh salad.