Monday, 9 March 2015

Tomato & Celery Barley Soup

This is simple and rather plain, but somehow it was exactly what I was in the mood to have.  Of course, I have been eating it with things like pizza and grilled cheese, so take that for what it is worth. Still, a plain, hearty-but-not-too-filling soup is sometimes just what is called for.

It's getting thicker as it sits, so I may make the remains even a little lighter by thinning them with some chicken broth

6 to 8 servings
1 hour prep time

Cook in Advance:
1/4 cup barley
1 cup water
a pinch of salt

Normally, I'd say cook it in the rice cooker, but this is too small a quantity, so unless you want barley for some other purpose, put it in a pot with the water and salt, and bring it to a boil. Boil steadily for about 30 minutes,  until the water is mostly absorbed and the barley is pretty much cooked. Watch the water; at this quantity it may boil off too soon, and you may need to add more to get the barley tender. Once it is mostly there, cover it and move it to the back of the stove while you make the soup.

Make the Soup:
2 large onions (about 2 cups chopped)
4 to 5 stalks of celery (about 3 cups chopped)
OR 2 cups peeled and finely chopped celeriac
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
4 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon rubbed oregano
1/8 teaspoon celery seed, finely ground
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel and chop the onions. Wash, trim and chop the celery, or peel and chop the celeriac. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet.Put the tomatoes, water, bay leaves, oregano, ground celery seed, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar in a large soup pot and heat over medium heat to a simmer. Cook the onions in the skillet until softened, reduced in volume, and slightly browned in spots - don't cook them too hot, in other words - then add them to the tomatoes, etc. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and cook the celery  until softened and reduced in volume. Add the garlic, and cook in for a minute or two, then add the celery and garlic to the soup. Add the cooked barley as well.

Simmer the soup for 20 or 30 minutes,  until everything is tender and, well, soupy. Season with salt and pepper as needed. This is fine served at once, but also keeps and reheats well.

Last year at this time I made Sweet Potatoes with Oranges & Ginger, and Apple Tapioca Pudding.

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