It looks like winter is coming after all this year, at least to the West coast! When temperatures drop and dark clouds fill the sky there are few things I find more satisfying than a steaming bowl of hearty vegetable soup. Add a chunk of toasted whole grain sprouted bread and I’m in heaven.
With just that on my mind I stopped at Whole Foods in Sherman Oaks on my way home from a beautiful day in L.A. I was thinking root vegetables, greens, maybe some barley to hearten it up a bit, and fresh herbs. Into the cart went my veggie booty: a bunch of yellow beets, half a green cabbage, bunch of collards, fresh dill, Italian parsley, a few red skinned potatoes, carrots… it was looking good already!
A delicious vegetable soup is one of the easiest things you can make. Fill your soup kettle no more than half way with water, put it on the stove to bring to a boil, and then start prepping and adding your fresh ingredients, in order of how long they need to cook.
First into the pot was a half cup of barley. It can take a good hour to get thoroughly cooked. Then I diced a big red onion and tossed that in the pot. This is when I realized I’d forgotten to buy some celery, because I would have added it right after the onion. Next I prepped the root veggies, first cutting the tops off the beets and plunging them into a sink of cold water. I peeled the beets and scrubbed the carrots, cutting them into bite size chunks. I like my veggies chunky,, but you can make your soup anyway you like; if you like them diced smaller or in even larger pieces, no prob! I left the lovely peels on the potatoes and this beautiful veggie rainbow went into the simmering broth.
Next came the greens, which included all of the beet greens, an entire bunch of collards, and half of a big green cabbage. Chop chop chop and into the pot. A half bulb of garlic, peeled and chopped finely. An entire bunch of Italian parsley, chopped coarsely (minus tough stems) and about a half bunch of fresh dill, mostly using the feathery fronds and fine stems. Looking good and my whole house was starting to smell amazing! Just a few more things to give the broth a bit more depth… a can of garbanzos (rinse with water and drain) and some leftover quinoa I spied in the fridge. The chopped herbs, greens, and beets gave the broth a luscious color and the barley and quinoa contributed just the right amount of body.
Time to eat!
Winter Roots & Greens Soup with Quinoa, Barley & Dill
Yield: about 5 quarts
You may use pearled barley for faster cooking time, but because the bran has been removed it is not a whole grain. I prefer hulled barley, which has higher nutritional content and fiber, but does take a little longer to cook. I happened to have some leftover plain cooked quinoa which was a perfect addition. You could use rice instead, or add uncooked rice or quinoa after the barley.
3-1/2 quarts water
1/2 cup hulled barley
1 large onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
3 red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and chopped in bite size chunks
2-3 carrots, scrubbed and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 bunch yellow beets (3-4 beets)
6-7 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bunch collard greens, chopped
1/2 large or 1 small green cabbage, chopped in 1-inch chunks
1 cup cooked quinoa or rice (or 1/3 cup uncooked)
1 14-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped (discard larger stems)
1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped (discard larger stems)
1 tablespoon coarse salt (more/less to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Put water in 8-quart pot and put on high heat to bring to boil. Add hulled barley. If using uncooked quinoa or rice, you may add that now. Chop onion and add to pot. Turn heat to medium. Scrub and chop potatoes and carrots. Cut beets from stems. Peel beets and chop into bite size pieces. Add potatoes, carrots and beets to pot. Add garlic.
Fill sink with 4-5 inches of cold water. Add beet greens, soak and shake clean. Coarsely chop and place in colander. Now place collar greens in the sink of water and do the same. Cut leafy part of collards off the stem/core, chop greens and add to colander, send stems to compost. Chop cabbage. Add all the chopped greens to the pot.
Add cooked quinoa/rice and garbanzos to the simmering soup. Wash and chop dill and parsley and add.
Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Let soup simmer on low/medium until all ingredients are well done and the barley is cooked.
Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.