My mother used to make this amazing vegetable soup. I learned to like barley from that soup. Oddly enough, the only food I really miss in eating gluten-free (I mean, besides good french bread), is barley.
There’s something about the sweet nuttiness, and slightly chewy texture that makes vegetable soup just perfect. I started adding it to other soups too, especially turkey noodle soup after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
For the past two years I’ve been trying to re-conjure the taste and feel of my mother’s soup, sans barley. I think I’ve finally done it.
The soup was made in the slow cooker, but doesn’t require much adaptation for the soup kettle — it would just take two days, instead of three.
Two marrow bones and about a pound of boneless beef stew meat
Or two beef shins with plenty of meat
Enough cold water to fill the cooker or kettle about two-thirds full
A sprinkle of salt
One large onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3-5 large stalks of celery, with leafy tops
2 big carrots,
Whatever other limp but usable vegetables (I had a half of zucchini, but I’ve also added green beans, pea, parsnips, or turnip — nothing too dominating in flavor, though)
While the stock is cooking, soak a cup or two of red beans, or a combination other beans of your choice (cannelloni, navy beans, october beans, red kidney beans are others I like to use)
When the stock has deepened in color and the veggies are nearly mush, strain the broth, reserving the “stuff” to pick out the clean bits of meat. Press the cooked vegetables through a sieve to get all the moisture and flavor out
Add the drained beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and the cleaned bits of meat (no gristle allowed) and simmer again overnight
4-5 medium-sized carrots, peeled and diced
6-8 small potatoes, peeled and diced (I used Klondike Rose this time)
3 stalks of celery, diced very fine
1 large zucchini, diced
A handful of chopped fresh parsley, or dried if necessary
Other herbs I usually add are powdered onion and garlic, paprika, thyme, sage, rosemary, and oregano.
Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Add 1 can of corn, another can of diced tomatoes,
Perhaps a couple of cans of cooked beans if you need to stretch the soup for more people. Salt to taste, add more herbs if needed.
I think the corn and several types of beans add the sweetness the barley used to provide, and if you want a little thicker soup, go heavier on the potatoes and don’t drain all the liquid from the canned beans. Another possible addition is a little chopped cabbage — people don’t think it of it as sweet, but it really is in soups.
I’m ready to go have seconds now.