Friday, February 09, 2007

Soup Week, Part 4

What's that? Enough beans already? Well beans are a wonder food, but okay. I'm not going far though, just traveling to an underloved grain: barley. I recently discovered barley and have found it to be a wonderful tool for frugal and healthy vegetarian cooking. When it comes to barley's nutrition, think whole wheat on all natural steroids. Barley is high in protein, fiber, and iron, and rich in fatty acids which make it a good complete protein. Hurrah! Barley, where have you been all my life? I have been using organic pearl barley, which is less nutritious than whole barley, but has a delightful texture and still retains some of the nutritional values previously mentioned. It can be purchased on the cheap in the bulk section. The stuff really expands when cooked. It's a great filler when you have the bare essentials for a soup.

Making a soup with barley is simple. Cook the barley ahead of time. Pearled barley does take a while. Cook it for about 35 minutes with a ration of 2 parts liquid to one part barley. It takes on flavors well, so consider cooking it in a good veggie broth. I think you could theoretically throw some barley in to a soup uncooked, but you'd need to make sure there was plenty of liquid for it to soak up. I make my barley soup with potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery, and whatever seasonings I'm in the mood for. Rosemary, thyme, the basics-all work well, but you can certainly get more exotic. Salt and pepper round things out. Bring to a boil and simmer until the veggies are as tender as you'd like them.

You can also use barley as a filler for leftover soups. Recently Beo threw a couple scoops of cooked barley into some leftover baked bean soup to stretch it for a hearty lunch. He served it in fresh baked bread bowls! They were his first attempt at bread bowls, and they were wonderful. Enjoy exploring the wonderful world of barley!


e4 said...

I love barley. Barley in soup, barley as a side, malted barley...

Rue said...

I know this is an old post, so maybe you've discovered this, but you can definitely just throw the barley in to cook with the soup, as long as there's enough liquid.

I found your blog through your husband's, where I was learning about growing potatoes. I'm enjoying working my way through both your archives :o).