Vegetable-Barley Soup

11-29-11 Dinner Blog

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It’s a 10!

Getting Way Ahead of Schedule

I made tonight’s soup earlier in the day.  I had about an hour and decided to get all the prep done for as much of the week as possible.  This is something I could have done ahead of time on Sunday or even Monday evening.  Getting things done ahead of schedule always feels good, considering that I feel I am forever catching up and running behind…

Pre-Prep for Tonight’s Dinner

I made Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup, in keeping with my goal of making one vegetarian dish a week. It is not a slow cooker recipe so it is probably a good one to make ahead of time when you can leave it on the stove and busy yourself with something else.  I, for instance, prepared other meals. Starting with what we were eating tonight, I first prepared the barley.  It’s a 1:2 barley water ratio.  I put in ¾ of a cup of barley and 1 ½ cups of water and brought it to a boil.  Then I turned down the heat to simmer and cooked for about 30 minutes.

While this was cooking, I also boiled water for Wednesday’s Orzo dinner and made the orzo. Continuing to multi-task, I prepared the rest of the soup.

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I sautéed the onions, salt and bay leaf.  Then added the carrots and celery. Unfortunately my grocery store was out of the pre-chopped carrot/celery/onion containers – major bummer – so I had to cut everything up.  I highly recommend that if you don’t need “chopping therapy” – and looking at the glass as half full, something good has got to come from chopping vegetables– buy them pre-chopped.  It saves a lot of time!

Finally, I added the vegetable stock, mushrooms, white wine, dill weed, pepper, and tamari sauce and let the mixture simmer for 1 ½ hours.  When the barley was tender I added it to the soup pot. Pre-Prep for Wednesday and Thursday’s Dinner While waiting for the barley to finish, I prepared the tomato-saffron topping for the orzo.  At this point I was drowning in food and felt that I had plenty for the rest of the week.  I wasn’t sure that I needed Wednesday’s Pastel de Papa dish, a ground beef and potato casserole, but I figured that I would make it anyway and if I ended up not needing it, I would freeze it for another week.

While I waited for the potatoes to boil, I quickly made the oatmeal muffins for tonight’s dinner.  Yes, I used a box.  Yes, I am proud of that.  Yes, they are delicious! There are lots of great box mixes out there.  I happen to like Dr. Oetker’s brand, and they are easy to adapt to the vegan requirements I must follow due to my daughter’s allergies.  I use flaxseed meal and water (3:1 ratio) for the egg, and rice milk or coconut milk for regular milk.  Just to be more healthy and less caloric, instead of using oil, I substitute equal amounts of applesauce.

That was another half hour of my time, but now tonight’s dinner is completely ready and I know that the Pastel de Papa will come in handy (twice!) as I made 2 8×8 casseroles.  So all I need to do is pop one in the oven, make a side salad, and sit down to eat!  …I can’t wait to write that blog entry!!!

The Verdict For Dilled-Vegetable-Barley Soup

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It’s a 10 all around!  Everyone, including our special friend who joined us for dinner gave the meal a resounding 10.  The soup, the muffins, everything!  I served the soup with some grated manchenga cheese but you could also add toasted sunflower seeds or parsley.  Everyone had a second portion of soup, including my son, who “detests” mushrooms (which is why I chopped them up really well).  This is a thick soup, almost stew-like.  In “The Enchanted Broccoli Forest” cookbook, the source of this recipe, author Mollie Katzen writes that some people might prefer to approach this barley soup with a knife and fork!  A vegetarian dish, this is a very hearty, healthy, easy, delicious and satisfying soup!

This is one you really must try!!!!!

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The Recipe Dilled Vegetable-Barley Soup

Source: The Enchanted Broccoli Forest Cookbook

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3/4 C Raw pearl barley

1.5 C Water

1 T Butter

1 Onion chopped

1 t Salt

1 Bay leaf

3 Large carrots, chopped

1/2 Bunch celery, chopped

8 C Vegetable Stock or water (I buy 32 oz of regular vegetable stock and 32 oz of low sodium vegetable stock in shelf-stable containers)

1/2 lb. Mushrooms, chopped (I chop them so they are unrecognizable)

6 T Dry White Wine

1.5 t (2-3 T fresh) Dill Weed

1/4 t Fresh black pepper

1.5 t Tamari Sauce

Instructions

1.  Place barley and 1 Cup water together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes until barley is tender. Set aside.  (You could do this even 2 days before and keep in fridge)

2.  In a soup pot, saute onion, salt and bay leaf in butter until onion is soft and clear.  Add carrots and celery cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients including barley.

3.  Cover soup and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

4.  Try not to eat it right away as it is even better the second day!

5.  Serve with whole grain bread or healthy muffins. Top w toasted sunflower seeds, chopped parsley, or parmesean/manchenga cheese.

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