Whether it's cold and freezing, foggy or wet, there’s nothing like a big bowl of hot and steamy satisfying soup. Especially, when it’s accompanied by a couple of chunks of toasted rustic Italian or sesame bread for dunking – but that part is totally up to you!
My Lentil, Barley and Spinach Soup recipe satisfies the soul, the senses and your budget. Made with inexpensive ingredients – barley and lentils which are a great source of dietary fiber and protein, along with a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions and joined by a little bit of garlic, tomatoes, fresh spinach and cilantro all come together to give you a vitamin C and antioxidant kick!
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup celery, sliced thin
2 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsps. Ground cumin
2 cups red or brown lentils
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
10 cups vegetable broth (bouillon, granules or prepared)
2 cups water
1 35 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
4 cups fresh spinach, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, washed, dried and roughly chopped
Fresh rustic Italian or French bread for dunking (optional)
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for sprinkling (optional)
1. Start by heating the olive oil in a heavy pot for 2 minutes over a medium high heat and then add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Stir for approximately 5 - 7 minutes. Add the cumin and cook 1 minute longer.
2. Next, add the barley, broth, tomatoes and sugar (the sugar helps neutralize the acidity of the tomatoes.) Stir well and bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes more. Reduce the heat to medium and add the lentils. Cook for 15 minutes more.
3. Lastly, add the spinach and cilantro, gently pushing these down into the stock and cook until they start to wilt and become soft, approximately 5 minutes total! Serve with a fresh bread slightly, slightly toasted or warmed, sprinkled with maybe a tiny bit of the Parmesan/Romano cheese if desired. Enjoy!
Chef’s Notes & Tips
After refrigerating any leftovers of this soup, you will find that the barley and lentils will soak up a lot of the liquid, so it will look a little thick. To reheat you only need to add a little more vegetable broth or water to make it a little soupier again.
Experiment with other greens in this recipe. Try adding sautéed broccoli rabe – rapini – kale, mustard greens. You can even substitute the barley for any type of rice or wheat grain such as Farro. Change it up and make it your own!