Marian’s Vegetable Barley Soup


This post could also be entitled "True Confessions of a Recipe Tester."  Here’s the story: Marion is a very skilled soup maker who lives in NY State; she is also a Hannaford customer and two of her recipes were featured in the January/February issue of Hannaford fresh.  Her recipes came through my kitchen last summer for basic testing.

As I read through the recipes, a few culinary red flags went off.  What – no olive oil?  no saute?  Seasoning salt is the only seasoning?  No broth, only water?  Hmmm…What will I do with all the leftover soup?

Well, I tip my chef’s hat to Marion. This recipe, chock full of veggies, bright with tomatoes and studded with toothsome barley, has been made three times this winter.  We have enjoyed this soup in the straight vegetarian version and with pulled rotisserie chicken meat.  Slices of pre-cooked chicken sausage also worked great

Everyone who has tasted this soup agrees with my evaluation.  This recipe is a winner, seasoning salt and all.  Marco is especially fond of this soup.  As he accents his bowl with way too much grated Parmesan, he likes to exclaim "See I do eat vegetables!"  I like to portion it out for quick lunches from the freezer.  I might add that this soup is very budget-friendly.  Skip the take-out soup and brown bag it!

Scroll all the way to the end of this post for a slow cooker preparation.

Marian’s Vegetable Barley Soup

1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 tomato cans of water (about 7 cups)
1 tsp. seasoning salt, more to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 large carrots, peeled, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2/3 cup barley (rinsed and picked over for stones)
1 (16-oz.) pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
12-oz cooked chicken, cooked ground beef or fully cooked chicken sausage (optional)
good quality extra-virgin olive oil (optional for drizzling on finished soup)

In a large stockpot, combine tomatoes, water, seasoning salt, onions, celery, carrots, and barley. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir well and reduce heat to low.  Simmer covered, for about 1 hour. Vegetables should be tender.

Add frozen mixed vegetables, increase heat to medium, and simmer until frozen vegetables are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

The soup is ready to be served at this point. If desired, add the cooked meat or poultry.  This soup is thick. Thin with a little water if desired. Serve hot.  For extra flavor, drizzle a very small amount of fragrant olive oil over the soup.

Adapted with Courtesy of Fresh Magazine November/December 2009

Cook’s Note: This recipe could easily be adapted for your slow cooker.  Layer the carrots, onions and celery into the slow cooker.  Sprinkle the barley and seasoning salt over the veggies.  Add the tomatoes and 6 cups of water.  Do not stir.  Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours.  Thaw the frozen veggies on a plate on the counter while the soup cooks.  To finish the soup, stir in the thawed vegetables and meat if using.  Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until veggies are tender and meat is warmed through.  Add additional water if needed to thin out the soup.  Adjust seasonings.

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