Sometimes I want a super smooth, creamy soup – other times it's variety of texture that does the trick. This soup has been a recent favorite of mine exactly for that reason. It's got the hearty, chewy texture of barley, the slight crunch from the kale, and also a bit of softness from the cannellini beans. Add tomatoes and basil into the mix and you end up with lots of flavors and subtleties in every spoonful. Yum.
Kale, Barley, and Bean Soup (serves 4-6)
based on this Williams-Sonoma recipe
2/3 cup dry barley (about 2 cups cooked)*
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cups packed ripped lacinato kale
fresh basil leaves, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parmesan (optional)
Cook barley per the instructions on the package (typically combining a ratio of 1 parts barley to 3 parts water, bringing to a boil, then simmering for 45-60 minutes until tender). In a large pot, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onions for 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the cooked barley, cannellini beans, tomatoes, and kale, bring to a boil again, then reduce to low heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Taste, then season as needed with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and stir in the basil. Top with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.
*my suggestion: cook more barley than you need, then save the extra to mix into salads throughout the week – it's a great way of making them more hearty.