This is an especially nutritious soup because barley adds another source of soluble fiber. This recipe quick-soaks the beans, but you can soak the beans overnight, if you wish. Pureeing some of the beans adds extra body to the soup.
1 cup dried borlotti or pinto beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups finely chopped red onion
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
9 cups water
2 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
How to Make It
Sort and wash beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel.
Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, parsley, celery, carrot, and basil; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans, 9 cups water, vegetable broth, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves.
Place 3/4 cup beans and 3/4 cup cooking liquid in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed bean mixture to pan. Stir in barley, salt, pepper, and hot sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until barley is done. Ladle soup into individual bowls; sprinkle with cheese.