In an effort to get some grains, more specifically fiber, into our diet, Vegetable Barley Soup was on the Thomas-Ewing household menu! (Actually, it was on the menu for two or three dinners, because this soup freezes very well!)
I remember well the cans of vegetable barley soup my mom used to buy for our school lunches when we were kids. Campbells used to make a great soup – it’s been years since I’ve had it so I can’t comment in present tense about the product at all. I wonder if she knew she was feeding us one of the healthiest foods on the planet?
Barley is a wonderfully versatile grain with a rich flavor and a pasta-like consistency. When the weather’s cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove seems to make everything warm and cozy. Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health along with the flavour of whatever soup or stew you’re cooking. In addition to flavour, barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, magnesium, and niacin, to name a few.
So, you see, this soup is going to do your body good! Another really cool thing about adding barley to a soup or a stew is that it acts as a thickening agent. Barley can be quite high in starch levels, so when starch cooks, it can naturally thicken your soup stock. You’ll often find that many soups and stews will contain potatoes for the same reason.
If barley is not your thing, you can totally substitute it with rice – that too, will thicken the soup and provide a great taste and texture. I’m no nutritional expert, but I think using barley rather than rice is certainly a healthier choice, but to each their own! 🙂
Vegetable Barley Soup
- 1 cup barley
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 2 whole celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or stock pot.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and saute for 2 minutes.
- Pour in the vegetable stock and water. Bring to a slight boil.
- Add in the butternut squash and barley. Stir and cover. Allow to cook for 15 minutes
- Next, add the tomato paste and dried thyme. Stir and cook for 15 additional minutes.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve hot with chopped parsley or scallions for garnish.