From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The bird's are back and that's an omen around here. No matter how terrible the weather, the robins and their bickering are a sure sign that spring is on the horizon. That doesn't push back the chill, but it makes it easier to surrender to the limitations of days that are often dank and gray. My real weapon is my stockpot, which I don't bother to put away at this time of year. Years ago, women in the neighborhood where I grew up, kept soup pots, some filled only with water, simmering on the stove to provide humidity throughout the winter. Truth be told, I think that spoiled me. The aromas of slow-simmering soups and bread baking are as much a part of my winters as the Christmas tree and pond ice. Our furnace has a humidifier, but on really cold, dank days I still make soup and let it steam my kitchen windows as it perfumes the house. Today was a bread and soup day. I adore limpa bread and while it rose, I toured my pantry. Actually, these days my pantry is a series of storage shelves whose content has to be monitored in a near-religious fashion. If I want to put something in, something has to come out. I had lentils and barley whose time had come and I decided to use them as the base of a meatless soup. I had no recipe in mind, so what turned out to be a delicious soup, was a pinch of this and that creation. I do hope you'll give this lovely winter soup a try. I took careful notes, so I can share how it's made.
Lentil and Barley Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
8 cups broth
1-1/2 cups dried lentils
1 (28-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup barley
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry or 1 cup chopped cooked greens
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Optional: grated Parmesan cheese
1) Heat olive oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until they soften.
2) Add celery, carrots, and garlic and saute a few minutes more.
3) Add broth, tomatoes, lentils, red wine, and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
4) Add barley and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes more. Add water to pot if needed
5) Add greens and cook an additional 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
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