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!