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.
I didn't have dried beans, so I used 3 cans of different kinds of beans. Thanks to the "Mandivola" review, I added less water (I would've neglected to make the connection between lots of water and raw beans tonight... yawn). I also added a can of diced tomatoes, used cayenne instead of hot sauce, and tipped in a bunch of leftover quinoa and mushrooms at the end of cooking.
This recipe is a great starting point for making bean soup... I think adding your own extras is mandatory.
I only gave 3 stars because the recipe is pretty bland as written. It's totally tweekable, however. I added a can of stewed chopped tomatoes, and some frozen chopped spinach. Bumped up the seasoning with a teaspoon of Bragg's Sprinkle seasoning. It was spot on with some sweet buttery cornbread on the side.
I really loved this soup! I have to admit that I didn't have dried pinto beans, but I used 3 cans of pinto beans instead. I used 2 cans for the whole and 1 can for the pureed part with 1 can-worth of water in the food processer. I saw the reviews that said it was a bit bland so in addition to the fresh parsley, I used fresh rosemary, frozen basil (had on-hand), smoked paprika, curry, dried oregano, and cayenne instead of tabasco. It was really tasty. Because I didn't soak the beans and cook them from dried, I used a different amount of water/broth. I used 3 cups chicken broth and about 3 cups water and it really thickens up as the barley cooks and the bean/water puree. It's very tasty with the parm, too. Very good and nutritious!
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