25 September 2012

Maggie's "Quick" Barley Soup

I noticed tonight while I was looking at past blog posts that we eat a lot of soup. This is my 16th post and the 4th about soup. To be perfectly honest, that's an almost accurate representation of our autumn/winter eating. It's incredibly common for us to eat two soups per week during the colder months. Part of that has to come from my deep love for all things soup. When Shana and I were first dating, we somehow got to talking with friends about what we would eat if we could only eat one thing for the rest of our lives (aka our favorite foods). I replied "soup" and Shana called me a cheater. Maybe it is cheating a little bit, but soups are awesome! You can throw stuff in a pot and out comes (9.8 times out of 10) something delicious! I know I'll be posting more soups here, including one we affectionately call "fatty fatty potato soup" (which is a bit fattier than other soups we make, but isn't too bad...).

Okay, enough babble and on to the recipe. On our meal plan for the week, we'd planned for a barley soup last night. I wasn't feeling a regular "veggie" soup with the simple inclusion of barley, so I got creative. Luckily, what I came up with was good! Plus, this soup is full of umami flavors, which is one of the major complaints people have about vegan food (even though they often don't phrase it quite like that). Although I've labeled this recipe "quick" barley soup, it's not a super fast soup because barley takes a bit of time to cook. This one saves time by using "quick" barley (think "quick" oats), but still has about 20 minutes of simmering time before the barley is ready. It's worth it though!


Maggie's Quick Barley Soup
Ingredients
2 small to medium onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 small carrots, chopped
splash full-bodied red wine, optional
8 c. water
2 rounded T. Better Than Bullion "No Beef" Broth
1/2 c. cream of mushroom soup (I use Imagine brand)
1 c. quick barley
1/3 head cauliflower, in florets
4 oz. frozen green beans
pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
3 dashes dried basil (optional)

Directions
1. Saute onions and celery in a bit of oil in a stock pot. Add garlic and saute for another minute. If using the wine, pour it in to deglaze the pot.
2. Add water, broth, mushroom soup, carrots, and barley. Bring to a boil then reduce head to med-low or low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer an additional 10 minutes.

Helpful Hints
  • As always, onion and garlic are abundant in this recipe. If you don't like as much of these, cut each amount in half. 
  • Deglazing is a great way to get the stuck on bits of SUPER FLAVORFUL food off the bottom of the pot. Any liquid (including water) will do the trick, but wine brings another level of flavor to your dishes and is, in my opinion, totally worth it!
  • I think one of the most important elements in this recipe is the use of the "beef" broth. It's really savory and rich, providing your palate with a lovely compliment to the nuttiness of the barley. You can clearly use other veggie broths if you prefer them. If you use a soy-free broth (the "beef" stuff is NOT soy-free), you've got a soy-free dinner, too. 
  • I loved the addition of the mushroom soup in here. You could add actual mushrooms if you like.
  • My guess is that this would freeze well. We didn't have enough left to freeze, but let me know if you try it and it works!
  • We ate this with crispy salad topped with the last of some apple cider/maple vinaigrette a friend made - delicious!

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