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February 16, 2011

Spicy barley soup recipe

Spicy barley soup, light and healthy.

From Skinny Soups: Over 100 hearty low-fat nutrition-rich calorie-wise soups, you chose this recipe for spicy barley soup. Thank you for that. Each spoonful makes you feel virtuous and my friend Bev, who served as taste tester, liked it so much that she had seconds. Though it's called barley soup, this is really a vegetable soup in a light broth, with a bit of barley tossed in as a thickener. And the "spicy" doesn't mean hot and spicy, but instead refers (I think) to the unusual combination of spices, including dry mustard. Cheese doesn't feature in the recipe in the book, but you won't be sorry if you add it. Either drop a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind into the soup as it cooks, or sprinkle grated cheese on top of each individual bowl.

Spicy barley soup

Serves 6.


1 Tbsp canola oil
2 large onions, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 lb fresh cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
8 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
2 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup rutabaga or turnip, peeled and diced
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp dried marjoram leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp celery seed
Dash of cayenne pepper (more or less, to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


In a 5-quart Dutch oven or small stock pot, combine the oil, onions, garlic and mushrooms, plus 2 tablespoons of the stock. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender, 4-5 minutes. If the vegetables begin to stick to the pot, add a few more tablespoons of stock.

Add all remaining ingredients to the pot, stir well to incorporate the tomato paste, and bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat to simmer, and cook for 1-1/2 hours or until the barley is tender and the soup is lightly thickened.

With a large spoon, skim any oil off the surface of the soup and discard. If you wish, top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Pauline | February 17, 2011 at 08:46 AM

I need more barley!

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | February 17, 2011 at 11:17 AM

I love barley, and it seems to be such an under-used ingredient. Great recipe!

Posted by: Lydia | February 21, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Pauline, Kalyn: let's all promise to use more barley this year. It's so healthy and delicious, and I don't use it often enough, either.

Posted by: Laura | February 22, 2011 at 02:11 PM

I made this soup for lunch today and I really loved it. It had some great heat. I will definitely me making it again - but for now I have some awesome leftovers to work through. I also reviewed this on CookBooker if you are aware of that site.

Posted by: Lydia | February 22, 2011 at 02:33 PM

Laura, thanks so much for coming back to leave this feedback. I'm so glad you enjoyed the soup!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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