Spinach and Barley Soup
Alright, so it’s not really soup weather anymore. In fact, Boston has suddenly leaped forward into what is pretty much summer. But I bought all this spinach when it was still soup weather, overcast and wet and chilly, and I really wanted this soup. It might be my last soup of the season, or at least, the last hot soup (I have some gazpacho in mind). So I had to do it. And even though it was 85 degrees out, and probably hotter in my kitchen, it was completely worth it. That bright green color made me so happy, and it was light and brightly flavored, and really would have been 100 percent perfect if I had made it when it was still hovering around 50 degrees in Massachusetts. At least now I have it in my repertoire for fall. And if you come across another cool day before summer is official, I recommend you give this soup a shot.
I adapted it from a recipe in Homestyle Vegetarian, a new cookbook I picked up on sale a few weeks ago, and which I can’t find online at all. The original recipe is actually for Spinach Lentil soup, but I had some cooked, leftover barley and no lentils. It was a good switch, but I still want to try it with lentils. It’s a very simple soup, as well, and gets most of its body from pureed potatoes. And it’s vegetarian, and could be vegan as well, if you left off the creme fraiche. It makes a ton, easily six servings, so I think I’ll be eating this for weeks, even as the temperature soars over 90. Ah well, that’s what I get for making soup in late May.
Spinach Barley Soup
(Adapted from Homestyle Vegetarian)
- 1 T. olive oil
- about 1/2 a white onion, diced
- 1 leek, sliced into rings and rinsed
- 2 stalks of celery, sliced
- 1 lb. fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp. lemon pepper
- about 1 tsp. salt
- 1 32-ounce container of vegetable broth
- about 9 oz. of baby spinach (usually about a bag and a half)
- about 1 c. cooked pearl barley
- more salt to taste
- creme fraiche and chives to garnish
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about a minute. Add the celery, stir into the onions, and continue to cook for another minute. Add the leeks, stir well, and cook for another minute or two, or until everything is slightly golden and soft.
Add the potatoes and stir well. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Some of the potatoes might stick to the pan, but just scrape them up as well as you can. Once the potatoes are a little bit golden and starting to soften, add the red pepper flakes, lemon pepper, and salt. Stir well, and add the broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and let sit, covered, for 20 minutes.
Once the potatoes are soft enough to pierce with a fork, add the spinach and let it all cook for another minute or two. Then use an immersion blender, food processor, or stand blender to puree the soup. Return to the pot, and return the pot to the stover over medium-low heat. Stir in the cooked barley, and cook the soup for just another minute or so, and you’re done. Add a bit more salt if necessary (don’t skimp, this soup does need a decent amount of salt). Garnish with creme fraiche and chives and serve.