Saturday, November 13, 2010

hearty bean, barley & vegetable soup (vegan)

i cleaned out the pantry and unearthed a package of trader joe's "17 bean & barley" mix. i roughly followed the directions on the package (subbing whatever veggies i had on hand at the house) and a few hours later, ended up with this:

Bean, Barley & Vegetable Soup
1 16-oz package of Trader Joe's "17 Bean & Barley" soup mix
2 Boullion cubes dissolved in 4 cups boiling water (i used 1 Not-Chik'n & 1 Low Sodium Veggie) **alternately, you can use 4 cups of canned/box broth**
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes 
1 cup chopped onion (i used a mixture of red & yellow)
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
2 small peeled & diced red potatoes
1/2 package of thawed frozen chopped spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp assorted dried seasoning (i used Bragg's sprinkle...Trader Joe's also makes one)
salt & pepper 

1) if you have the foresight, soak the beans overnight. otherwise, follow the quick soak directions on the package. this takes an hour.  (thaw frozen spinach now too, if you're using it).
2) Dissolve your boullion cubes in boiling water.
3) Pour 4 cups of broth into pot with the beans.  Add whole can of diced tomatoes.
4) put olive oil in a separate saute pan, and cook vegetables (everything except the spinach), garlic and dried basil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. 
5) put veggies into soup pot and add bay leaf, spinach, seasoning, salt and pepper.  Cover with more water (2 cups) and stir everything up. 
6) Cover pot and simmer for about 2 hrs. Occasionally check liquid level and add more broth or water if necessary.  the beans were a little hard the first night we ate this, but softened up for the leftovers. 

A note on the vegetables: 
seriously, use up whatever you have. sweet potatoes would be good instead of the red potatoes. bag of frozen corn? use it if you want. same goes with green beans, red peppers, zucchini, etc.  kale would be good instead of spinach. recipe on the package calls for celery - i hate celery, so i left it out.

My ultra-lazy quick thaw method for frozen spinach is as follows: put frozen block of spinach in a metal sieve. run hot water over it until it starts to break up. Press out excess water. 
i'm sure i end "pressing out" vitamins, so if you plan on using frozen spinach, it would probably be best to thaw it when you're quick soaking the beans.

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