Hearty Greens & Barley Soup

Photo and Recipe by Tod Dimmick

Like hearty greens? This is the soup for you. This big batch is one of my tricks for preparing large amounts of summer produce to freeze for the winter. Problem is that it's so tasty I eat much of it before it gets near the freezer.

Prep time: 20 minues
Cook time: 60 minutes

3 TB olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 bunch hearty greens, such as kale or other brassica greens, washed, with stems separated and chopped into 1/2" pieces and leaves coarsely chopped.
4-5 carrots, scrubbed, peeled if necessary, and chopped into 1/4" segments
a handful fresh sage leaves, chopped
a 6" branch fresh oregano, leaves stripped & chopped, woody part discarded or reused elsewhere
4-5 3" spears fresh thyme, leaves stripped, woody part discarded or reused elsewhere
2 6" fresh rosemary spears, leaves stripped & chopped, woody part discarded or reused elsewhere
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
12-15 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (vary the amount depending on how thick you like your soup)
1 cup uncooked barley
5-6 cups tomato sauce (or even -shh- a jar of your favorite pasta sauce)
salt and pepper to taste
shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat and cook the onion, kale stem sections, herbs, carrots, and garlic, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a low boil. Add the barley and chopped greens, turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until greens are tender and barley is cooked. Stir in the tomato sauce, and return to a simmer. Add more stock or water if necessary to reach the consistency you like.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with parmesan and a glass of dry rose' wine. If it's winter when you enjoy this soup, a few spoonfuls will bring you right back to summer. Life is good.

Variation: add chopped cooked chicken, pork, or sausage.

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