Tomato Barley Soup

Tomato barley soup

Three generations. Riding bikes in the sun. 

After our bike ride with Grammy, Poppy, and the kids yesterday, I told Yancey, "This is a very short window. The oldest are healthy, the youngest can ride a 2-wheeler, and the 10 year-old still wants to be with us." A little blip on the screen, really. And all the more precious for it.

After our ride, we came back to the house and grandparents played cards with kids while I made dinner. We have people over a couple times a week, and I usually plan ahead more than I did last night. Nothing prepped, chopped, or even dreamed up. (I did have a pitcher of Sanity Sangria in the fridge, which buys a lot of time. That came into being as it always does--two half-finished, very mediocre bottles of red wine. A little triple sec and some fruit juice and a miraculous transformation ensues.)


Enter Refrigerator Soup, though I've named it something else here. A vegetable soup like this: 

  1. Is a wonderful way to pack in oodles of veggies.
  2. Makes great leftovers (not that I have ever devoted any time to thinking about that).
  3. Is endlessly variable.
  4. Makes a pretty picture.
  5. Kind of demands biscuits. I made a divine variation, which I'll post later this week.

Loretta only ate half her bowl, but that's alright. Look at this face. It's hard to be tough about anything.


Tomato Barley Soup
The great thing about a soup like this is that it's almost impossible to mess it up. Don't go light on the salt, taste as you go, and have fun cleaning out your fridge!

 1/4 c. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped or thinly sliced
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
2 cans chicken stock (or water)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 head of small cabbage, finely shredded
Few big handfuls of chopped fresh kale 
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley (or 1 cup cooked grain, like rice)
big handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
lots of coarse salt

Heat up the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots, red pepper, and garlic, and sauté until soft, about 10 more minutes. 

Add chicken stock and tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Stick an immersion blender in and puree about 1/4 of the soup to give it more body.

Add cabbage, kale, and barley and cook for 10 minutes. Add basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and add more of anything to taste (including more water if you want your soup thinner).

Serve unadorned or with lemon zest, parmesan, or more basil on top.