Thursday, December 29, 2011
It has been a whirlwind around here for the last week or so and I have barely cooked. There was a solid 10-15 minute block of time on Christmas Eve where I tried to help with the cooking, but my eyes were closing as I was working and I had to be forcibly sent to the couch for a nap. So have I baked, yes. Oh my yes, but cooked? Not so much. NB: in the last two sentences I have typed cookied instead of cooked each time and had to go back and fix it. Clearly there has been some rewiring of my brain following the week o' baked goods.
Last night all I could think of was clean, fresh, non-butter infused flavors. Something hearty and warming though (because have you been outside? It is insanely cold out there) but not rich or creamy or anything like that. Stellacarolyn's vegetable soup sounded so tempting but I was a bit short in the vegetable departments so instead I turned to Lidia. I adapted a barley and bean soup to make it a bit less labor intensive and it is so delicious. Tomato soup, but better. Vegetable soup, but with fewer pesky vegetables. I am so very happy it made an excessively large quantity.
BARLEY AND BEAN SOUP
gluten-free adaptation at the end...
1 C chopped turkey bacon
1 C chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
5-6 baby carrots (maybe 2 if using full sized?)
2/3 C crushed tomatoes (from can)
8 C chicken stock
2 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2/3 C barley
3 bay leaves
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
about a cup of small white beans, rinsed and drained (or pick your own bean!)
1/4 C parm (which I skipped because I accidentally over salted)
salt and pepper
In a large stock pot, crisp up some turkey bacon. I cooked mine on medium for 8-10 minutes. Remove the bacon, but not the lovely bacon leavings. Toss in the chopped onion and again cook for 8-10 minutes. Toss the onion in the bacon fat so it gets all golden. In a food processor, combine the garlic and carrots with 2 T olive oil. Mix until it is very smooth. Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and carrot mixture to the pot and cook for 2 more minutes over medium low heat. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 8 more minutes. Then add the stock, the potatoes, the barley, the bay leaves and the rosemary. Bring up to a boil and the reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste at this point. Add the beans and cook for 10-15 minutes more. I served mine with little toasts with mozzarella broiled on them, but as long as you have some delicious bread to soak up the sauce, you'll be all set. If adding the parm, I would mix it in right before serving. Sprinkle the reserved bacon on top.
to make gluten-free:
Make sure you're using a gluten-free chicken stock and bacon (believe me, your bacon really shouldn't have gluten in it, if it does you really need to look into better bacon). Barley is a wheat product, so you can substitute rice instead. I'd use about 1 C cooked rice. The rice should be added at the very end, after the beans. I don't like to cook rice directly in soup because it can take on too much water.