I was cleaning out my refrigerator the other week and came up with this recipe for Italian Barley and White Bean Soup. Sometimes the best meals are the “kitchen sink” meals where you throw everything in a pot and hope for the best! I knew this was a winner when my mom walked in the door and said my house smelled like my Italian grandma Josie’s kitchen!
The latest fad diets are those that eliminate grains, but I feel that whole grains are a healthy part of a balanced diet. (However, some people do much better without gluten in their diet. It’s all about finding what’s right for you!) I used barley for this soup, but you can substitute with farro or gluten-free grains such as quinoa or brown rice.
Barley is a gluten containing grain, but for those that can tolerate gluten it has many health benefits. The soluble fiber called beta-glucan found in barley helps with blood glucose stabilization as well as warding off heart disease by decreasing the amount of cholesterol absorbed in the intestines. It also contains phytochemicals that protect against free-radicals. I love the chewy texture it lends to soups and stews making for a hearty meal! I used fresh herbs, but feel free to use dried herbs if needed. Just decrease the amount used!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 5 tablespoons organic tomato paste
- ½ cup dry barley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 can of small white beans, rinsed and drained (15.5 oz)
- 2-3 large handfuls of baby spinach
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add carrots and celery and sauté until tender crisp.
- Add broth, water, tomato paste, barley, bay leaf, parsley, basil, sea salt and pepper. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans and baby spinach and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Soup is done when barley is tender. Adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Serve along side a large garden salad for a Meatless Monday meal ready in under an hour!