Ah soup. A fall favourite. Once there is that bit of chill in the air, nothing is quite as comforting as steamy bowl of soup (perhaps with a nice chunk of artisan bread on the side for dunking). Sure, you can buy a can of your favourite flavour from the grocery store – there are countless brands and varieties to choose from – but it’s not the same as having a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove. It’s easy to make, a great way to use up ingredients in your fridge or pantry, and way more economical than the commercial varieties. Making your own soup lets you control the nutritional value too – prepared soups are high in sodium, and may not always have the most favourable ingredients in them.
Seeing as my dietetic internship keeps me from working as many hours as I would like, I’m all for preparing low cost meals, such as soup, that will give me lunches or dinners for a few meals throughout the week. It allows me to use up veggies that might be on their last leg in my fridge, cutting down on my food waste too. It’s a great meal you can make without a real recipe, and have it turn out well.
Aside from loading up on veggies, I like to add a little substance/staying power to my soups by including grains or protein such as beans or leftover meat/seafood. One of my favourite ingredient to add to soup is barley. There’s just something about the way barley tastes and the texture it adds to a bowl of soup that makes it special. I can’t explain it – I just know that barley makes soup better. Trust me.
I made a simple vegetable barley soup recently that was rather delicious. It was one of those nights where I had a few veggies to use up in my fridge, and nothing planned for dinner. Keeping a few things in my pantry (such as cans of no-salt added canned tomatoes and organic veggie broth) makes a throwing a soup together easy on any busy weeknight. You just need to do a little chopping, sautéing, and simmering, and before you know it – soup’s on.
Easy Vegetable Barley Soup
makes 6 – 8 servings
If you have vegetables, barley, canned tomatoes, and vegetable stock then you have what you need to make this soup. Any vegetable you have in your fridge will work. Experiment with different combinations to find your ultimate vegetable barley soup. Add any leafy greens at the end as they don’t take long to cook.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 3 – 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large potato, peeled and cubed (I used a sweet potato)
- 2 cups other vegetables (whatever you have on hand – I used frozen corn, peas, and diced up radishes)
- 796 ml can no-salt added diced tomatoes
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup hulled barley
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat up a large pot (Dutch oven is perfect) over medium heat. Add oil, onions, and garlic. Sauté 1 – 2 minutes.
- Add carrot and celery, and sauté 2 – 3 minutes, until vegetables start to soften.
- Add other vegetables, tomatoes, stock, and barley. If using frozen corn/peas, or a leafy green like spinach, do not add these here.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking barley for doneness.
- Add vegetables that don’t require much cooking (peas, corn, leafy greens), and allow to simmer 5 minute.
- Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!
Note: Although I have listed types of vegetables and quantities here, this is really a soup where you can add whatever your heart desires. I would definitely try and keep the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery as they are pretty much the base of any homemade soup, but other than that the sky is the limit! Just keep in mind cooking times, because you don’t want softer veggies to turn to mush.
What’s your favourite soup ingredient?