Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Barley Bean Soup

 © Donna Cook – All Rights Reserved  

Here's a great barley bean soup recipe than can be made three ways-beef, chicken/turkey, and vegetarian. They're easy to make and great comfort food! Just perfect for warming up after school, skiing, or any winter activity.

I adapted this from a recipe on a box of barley. A dietitian told me to eat more beans for the fiber. I had soup beans from the local organic food store that had been on the shelf for a while so I threw them in. What a difference! The recipe became a soup rather than a bunch of ingredients in a pot. I usually freeze half of the batch for future use.

  • 1 pound ground beef, shredded chicken, or shredded turkey (omit for vegetarian)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery chopped, including leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil such as canola
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 pound mixed beans for soup (1 pound for vegetarian)
  • 8 cans broth-beef, chicken or vegetable
  • 2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 16 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • Total time  4-8 hours
    • Preparation time  30 minutes
    • Cook time            4-8 hours minutes
  • Servings    10 large bowls
  1. In a stock pot, saute meat (if used), onion, garlic, and celery until cooked through.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Cook 2-4 hours on low heat or 8 hours on low in a Crock-Pot.
  4. Add additional broth or water to reach desired consistency.
  5. Remove bay leaf prior to serving.

Food facts – Barley

Barley belongs to the genus and species Hordeum vulgare  in the Family Poaceae, the grass family. The genus Hordeum includes a wide variety of barley types including foxtail barley, seaside barley and many others. The largest barley producing states are Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota.

Most barley sold in grocery stores is pearled barley. This means that the inedible hull and the bran are removed. The inside is called the pearl and is polished, similar to rice. Hulled barley still has the bran with only the hull removed and is also available online or at some grocery stores.

Barley is the fourth most popular grain in the world and has been grown since ancient times. The Egyptians famously made beer from barley. In fact over 40% of the U.S. production of barley is used for making beer, which is made from fermented barley (malt), hops (flower of the hop plant), water and yeast. Barley was even used to standardize a unit of measurement, the inch. During his reign from 1307 to 1327, Edward II decreed that three grains of barley placed end to end equaled one inch.

Barley can be used for much more than beer and soup. One of my favorite recipes substitutes barley for risotto rice for a different texture in risotto. Top the risotto wild mushrooms for a unique flavor. Pilafs have a whole new character when made with barley instead of rice. Pair barley with beef and root vegetables for cozy winter dinners.

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