My mother is well-known for making soup out of just about anything. And then freezing it. It’s great that she can use leftovers and bones and who-knows-what-else to make a delicious and nutritious soup. And it’s fun to play the “what do you think this is supposed to be?” game when a container of such soup comes out of the freezer weeks or months later. But that’s not how I do it.
Throughout the years I’ve tried a few soup recipes and have changed one to be my go-to soup recipe. It started as a chicken pasta Italian-style soup, and after quite a few tweaks, morphed into a vegetable barley soup. It has chicken broth in it, so it’s not vegetarian, but if made with vegetable stock it would be. When my soup-loving mom visits, I substitute rice for the barley, since she must follow a gluten free diet. Both versions are great on their own, and also pair well with a nice chunk of hearty bread, cheese and crackers, a sandwich, or salad and fruit.
Vegetable Barley Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if preferred)
1 can chopped tomatoes, with its juice
4 cups water
1 cup uncooked barley (or 1/2 cup rice, if preferred) *Note: If using rice, the soup is gluten free.
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups frozen petite green beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
Heat oil in large soup pan; add onion, celery and garlic. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are still crisp, yet tender. Stir in basil, pepper, broth, tomatoes and water; bring to a boil. Add barley (or rice) and carrots. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add frozen vegetables. Cover and simmer at least 45 minutes.
Note: If making this in the summer, use fresh veggies rather than frozen.