Vegetable Barley Soup

I don’t have much of an intro for this one. I wanted vegetable barley soup so I made some. That’s about the long and short of it. I worked from home today so I was able to bake a loaf of bread, which I thought would be a good accompaniment to the soup, so that worked out well. And it provided enough leftovers for two or three lunches this week. There isn’t really much else to say about vegetable barley soup, except for the fact that I did use a secret ingredient: read the recipe for details!

Vegetable Barley Soup

1 large or three small shallots, diced
2 carrots, chopped into large bite-sized pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
5 cups vegetable stock or vegan “beef” broth
1 14.5 pound can diced tomatoes
1 medium or 2 small potatoes, chopped
3/4 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen green beans
1 cup frozen pearl onions (I figured if I was using pearled barley, pearl onions were only appropriate)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp (or to taste) grated fresh horseradish (the secret ingredient!)
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat a bit of oil and sauté the shallots, carrots, and celery for two minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes, and potatoes. Bring to a boil.

Add the frozen veggies, bay leaves, thyme, and smoked paprika.

Return to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low. Add the secret ingredient, horseradish, to taste. Horseradish wasn’t in the ingredients photo because I didn’t think to add it until after I’d already started making the soup. My culinarily-inclined friend gave me a jar of fresh horseradish that she had preserved last week and I’ve been wondering how I should use it. Then it dawned on me that it might be good in this soup. And it was: it added a nice pungent dimension.

Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. After covering my soup pot, I turned around to find Tigger in his usual spot: sitting – very prim and proper – on the very edge of the kitchen island, half dozing off but retaining a modicum of alertness in case I walk near him (in which case he will stick his paw out, catch my arm in his claws, and pull me over to him).

Tigger is one of those cats who can actually smile. It’s one of the things I love most about him.

So I rewarded him for being so cute by giving him some nutritional yeast, for which he goes bonkers.

Anyway, when you’re finished playing with the cat and the soup is ready, season with freshly ground pepper and remove the bay leaves.

Serve with freshly baked crusty bread. This is a loaf of Jeffrey Hamelman’s Rustic Bread, which like every other loaf I’ve made from this book, came together and baked beautifully.

It was really good used to sop up the soup.

I don’t know why the soup caused this expression on Mark’s face:

He seemed a little disconcerted when he found out that barley was to be a big part of his dinner, so maybe that was the problem, although I’m not sure he was sure exactly what barley was before eating it. He wasn’t quite as rapturous about the soup as he has been about other meals (including Saturday’s Soon Tubu Jjigae), however, I thought it was really very good and I definitely intend to make it again. It’s very comforting.

Leftovers should be even better than the first day, however, barley absorbs a lot of water, so you’ll almost definitely have to thin it out. I find that this condensed version is all the easier to carry to work, though, and at lunch time I just add a bit of almost-boiling water from the hot water dispenser, which also reduces the reheat time necessary in the microwave to about a minute.


  1. Mihl Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 4:31 am

    I never had barley soup, but now I think I should give it a try. That bread looks outstanding!

  2. ...barbara... Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 7:04 am

    i love barley soup…..
    my mom used to make it all the time when i was little….
    will have to try…..
    love the kittie pictures too….such personality…

  3. bex Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 9:50 am

    My cat goes nuts for nutritional yeast too. He thinks anything I get down from the cupboards might be nooch and cries to have some.

  4. Jennifer Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

    GORGEOUS bread! Wow! The soup also looks incredibly delicious. Soup and bread is a perfect meal.

    I’m going to try giving my cats some nooch tonight. If Tigger likes it, maybe they will, too!

  5. Maureen Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 2:43 pm

    Mmmm… the soup looks just lovely. Barley is f*cking awesome in soups…. pardon my French 🙂

  6. renae Said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

    Mihl, you should definitely try barley in soup, it’s a great combination…like Maureen said!

    Jennifer, thanks – I’ve been really pleased with the breads from that book. My other cat doesn’t care about nooch, but Tigger can be downright aggressive about it!

    Barbara, yes, Tigger has more personality than just about any other cat I know. Not all of it is GOOD, but no one will ever accuse him of not having a personality…

    Bex, Tigger gets especially confused when I use flour because he expects it to be nooch…and then we end up with this:

  7. Mark Said,

    October 8, 2008 @ 8:36 am

    what is this “nooch”!?!? Sounds like Jay of Jay & Silent Bob..Snoochie boochies!

  8. Hesther Said,

    January 30, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    Never having cooked with barley before, I couldn’t see where to add it. Does it need to be soaked and cooked beforehand?

  9. renae Said,

    January 31, 2016 @ 1:12 pm

    Hi Hester, you can add the barley with the vegetables, no need to soak or pre-cook.

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