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    • Randy Graham

    • January 17, 2014 in Columnists

    Vegetable Barley Soup

    Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

    This is a hearty vegan soup that is as tasty as it is easy to prepare. Even better than that, barley is a wholesome, highly nutritious grain and is thought to be an excellent food choice for those concerned about type-2 diabetes. It contains essential vitamins (niacin and thiamine) and minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc) and is an excellent source of dietary fiber. For those of us that watch our cholesterol, it is naturally cholesterol free and low in fat.

    When I first made this for my wife many years ago, I remember her reaction. She said, “I don’t really like barley or at least I didn’t until now”. I like it because it is different. I think you’ll appreciate its nutty flavor and pleasant chewy texture.

    1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup chopped onions
    3 cloves garlic (minced)
    ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    1 pound fresh mushrooms
    2/3 cup pearl barley
    2 stalks celery (sliced)
    2 large carrots (sliced)
    ½ bay leaf
    5 cups vegetable broth
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Dash of nutmeg

    Sauté onions in a large soup pot on medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes. Clean, remove stems and cut mushrooms into quarters. Add garlic, thyme and mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Add barley, celery, carrots, bay leaf and broth. Taste this base and if it is a little watery or not just tasty enough, add a teaspoon of vegetarian “Better Than Bouillon” to perk it up.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 30 – 35 minutes or until barley is tender.

    Add nutmeg and salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving. I like to serve this to our friends and family with a dollop of sour cream on top.

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