Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India (whew)

So far, the soup project has been a success. It's a good way to build new recipes into my schedule. It has not (so far) been easy to do the same with the blog updates; for that matter, I have made quite a few new recipes that aren't soups, some of them quite good, and they haven't even gotten a mention here. But hey--baby steps.

It has been a bit of a difficult month. January is a tough nut any year; this one has seen an astonishing amount of snow for our locale, which makes getting out and about seem like more of an effort than it's worth, and of course there's l'enfant to rob us of sleep. I veer back and forth between thinking that I'm depressed because I'm not getting anything done and because I'm trying to do too much. It's pretty annoying for someone like me to feel both harried and unmotivated. Here we are on Saturday morning, not even 7 a.m., and my weekend is full. Do I need down time, or time that produces something other than a momentary pause in the flood of disorder? I did do a lot of baking last weekend, and that felt good. It has been too long since this place smelled of fresh bread.

Back to the soup. This is a good one. I have not historically used barley all that much, but I should do something about that. It's a hefty soup, brimming with the good things of winter, and you could easily add a few more if you wanted to--some ribbons of kale, or a potato. I love Indian spices and probably used a full teaspoon of each of those indicated. I like a thicker soup, and used less broth and a bit more barley than she suggests.

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2-3 onions, chopped
3 big carrots, trimmed, peeled, and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled, cored if necessary, and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric, plus more to taste
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala, plus more to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
6 c chicken broth
1/2 c pearl barley

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onions, carrots, parsnips, garlic, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook about five minutes on low heat. Add the spices, cover, and cook gently, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft but not colored, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then stir in the barley. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender, which can take from 15 to 40 minutes depending on the type of barley. Adjust seasoning.

Does it get any simpler than that? My only real quibble was with the lack of leftovers; next time I may make a double batch and freeze some.

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