If you had told 12-year-old grilled cheese making, canned mushroom soup opening Michelle, that one day she’d be making a vegetable barley soup from scratch, she would’ve assumed some sort of coercion, or shock therapy had taken place. My child/teen taste buds always defaulted to a Ranch, cream or cheese-based meal.
Tomato sauce pasta was always covered in that distinctive, microwave-melted, radioactive orange blanket of cheddar. My romaine lettuce wilted under the heavy weight of a Caesar tidal wave, buried beneath a half cup of Kraft "Parmesan." I'd never order (of my own free will) a clear broth soup and or a tomato-based minestrone. Creamy potato leek, broccoli-cheddar and thick condensed mushroom soup were where my heart belonged.
My old self couldn't help but cringe when HusB requested vegetable barley soup this weekend. I refused to produce that bland, alien-skin-greige liquid from my kitchen. So I took matters into my own hands and cackled, as I added golden turmeric and a spicy bird's eye chili. I admit, it was damn delicious.
1/2 C diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 C carrots, chopped
2 C celery, chopped
1/2 C dry white wine (Chardonnay ideally)
1 C zucchini, chopped
1 C red yams, diced (sweet potato would be totally fine here!)
3-4 C vegetable stock
3/4 C uncooked Barley
1 bird’s eye Thai chili, minced
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp of sugar
2 Bay leaves, salt, pepper,
2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 C chopped parsley
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 C sweet tomato caramelized jam (sub with 1/4 C canned diced tomatoes, with 1 tbsp of sugar & a splash of good balsamic vinegar)
1. Sauté onion, carrot, celery with oil in big heavy pot, or in the Instant Pot until soft & fragrant.
2. Add garlic, dried spices, bird’s eye chili, and Bay leaves and let them cook for a couple minutes.
3. Once brown bits form, add wine & deglaze.
4. Add zucchini and potato & uncooked Barley. Stir & let ingredients warm through.
5. Add veg stock, turmeric, sweet tomato jam & fresh thyme.
6. Bring to a low simmer for at least an hour, or if you’re using an Instant Pot, pressure cook on high for 15 minutes.
7.Once almost done stir in fresh parsley, 1 tbsp of sugar and season to taste! Freshly ground pepper works wonders here!