Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegetable Barley Soup

Lately it has been really cold in the Northeastern United States. I ride the train and out of the city everyday to work and sometimes the wait on the cold platform combined with a long train ride (often with little heat) can leave you chilled to the bone! Tonight I came home from one of those dreaded cold commutes and all I could think about when I walked in the door was of warm, hearty soup.

I barely had myself in the house before I was in the fridge looking for whatever vegetables we had on hand.  Luckily, we had some good stuff including leeks and Swiss chard; two of my favorite things (which I ironically do not eat that often).  So we had the beginnings of  yummy cold weather soup!

Wow! This really hit the spot and thankfully I am no longer chilled to the bone. It is filling and nutritious and this recipe makes enough to easily serve four with lots of leftovers.  I froze some for another day and have a good amount in the refrigerator, too. Looks like I don't have to worry about what is for lunch tomorrow!

Vegetable Barley Soup

1 carrot chopped
2 leeks cleaned and sliced into thin rounds
1 red pepper chopped
1 rib celery sliced or chopped
Chiffonade of several Swiss chard leaves (stems removed)
1 tbsp olive oil
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups medium pearled barley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium and add all vegetables except the Swiss chard. Sweat the vegetables until they turn a very bright color.  Add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, thyme and barley. Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a soft boil and cook for 30 minutes.  Add Swiss chard and continue to cook another 30 minutes or until the barley is tender.

Serve with some  toasted crusty bread. I was lucky enough to have some of the good stuff on hand- you know, the authentic Italian bread from Brooklyn.. It really doesn't get any better than that!

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