Corn, Bean, and Barley Soup
This recipe is based on one from Deborah Madison's 'The Savory Way,' a vegetarian cookbook that I love, from the Greens restaurant in San Francisco that I also love -- restaurant and city both. I was initially attracted to the soup because she uses words like "sustaining," "deeply nourishing," "effortless," and "prehistoric" to describe it. Prehistoric! Without the herb drizzle, it's like eating hot cereal -- good or bad, depending on your feeling about hot cereal; I don't personally recommend skipping the herb drizzle. I also serve it with the addition of roasted pumpkin seeds for a bit of crunch.
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours (including soaking time for beans)
Yield: Serves 8
For the Soup:
1 cup dried kidney beans (or 1 25-ounce can (or 2 15-ounce cans) kidney beans)
1 cup barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 quart chicken broth (or veggie broth, or more water)
6 cups water
2 cups frozen corn kernels
For the Herb Drizzle:
2 loosely packed cups parsley (leaves and small stems)
Small handful of celery leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
- For the soup: Either soak the beans and barley together overnight, or forget, and use the quick-soak method: cover them with plenty of cold water in a pot, bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, and leave them to soak for an hour or so. If you are using canned beans, don't soak them!
- Now, warm the oil over medium-low heat in a soup pot and sauté the onion, garlic, and celery until they are softened and getting translucent -- around 5 minutes or so.
- Add the soaked beans and barley (again, not if you are using canned beans! Don't add them!) along with the broth and water, then cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Lower the heat, set the lid partially ajar, and simmer the beans and barley for half an hour.
- Now stir in 2 teaspoons of kosher salt (half as much table salt), then partially cover the soup again and simmer until the beans and barley are completely tender -- for half an hour or so, or until tasting tells you they're tender.
- Stir in the corn and -- finally! -- the canned beans, if that's what you're using. Then simmer another 5 minutes, taste for salt -- it will need some, and if you don't add it, it will be very porridgy -- and serve with the herb drizzle
- For the herb drizzle: In a food processor or blender, whir together all the ingredients but the olive oil until fairly smooth. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream and whir until blended.