Saturday, December 12, 2009

Staying Warm/Red Lentil Barley Soup

Since I have all but fallen off the face of the earth, I am sure most of you were just overwhelmed with concern over my absence in the past week. Has the library consumed her? Has the bitter cold frozen her solid? Has she starved to death? Well, with regards to the starving part, that's never a concern. If you're wondering how I managed to survive an intense exam week and a snow storm and long library days, the solution is quite simple. I like to call it soup. Red lentil and barley soup to be specific.

My love for soup is a little excessive, let's just say it's verging on an obsession or addiction. I legitimately think I could eat soup every winter night. I love how it warms me up from the inside out, and how the volume of it makes me feel so full, but in a good way that just doesn't last too long. For a food blogger who's supposed to be trying new recipes this is dangerous territory. I may love soup, but even to me the thought of a soup-only blog sounds quite dull. Anyhow, since I knew that I wouldn't be blogging this week, I broke the rules. On Sunday I made five quarts of the same soup knowing that if would be my dinner for the next five days. Yes, I ate the same thing for dinner every night this week, and yes I loved every single bite. Sometimes it's nice to be a creature of habit.

I was inspired to make this soup after I tasted one by the same name at Beauty's, my favorite diner in Montreal. Their split pea and red lentil barley soups are a force to be reckoned with and any time I go, I wind up lugging back a few quarts. Since all the lugging was getting a little tiring (and expensive), I decided to make my own version of this red lentil barley soup. Although I can't say it quite compares to Beautys' its a very close second and far more convenient. I love the heartiness and flavor that this soup has, red lentils cook quickly and fall apart and the barley adds a little something to chew on. I have made this soup several times now and each time it has been slightly different, but equally good. The one this week was definitely my favorite with a hint of cumin and a kick of cayenne. This soup is by no means special or unique, which is exactly why I like it, it's just the dose of un-special I am looking for sometimes. This is the type of recipe to keep in mind for a cold day, when you're scanning the supermarket in desperate search of dinner ingredients and drawing a total blank. For days like those remember this recipe and when you can wiggle your fingers and toes again, trust me you'll feel as good as new.

Red Lentil Barley Soup
Note: I am no recipe writer, so consider this 'recipe' a blueprint play around with it to suit your tastes and make adjustments if you have to (I won't tell if you don't). This recipe also makes a lot (about 5 quarts) so keep that in mind and cut it down if you want to, however, it does freeze well so don't be shy about making the whole batch and then stowing some away.

2 c. red lentils
3/4 c. barley
1, 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 c. chicken broth
3 c. water (more as needed)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, sliced thin
3 large carrots sliced thin
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. cayenne (adjust depending on taste)
salt to taste

1) Heat up the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook until soft.
2) Add the rest of the ingredients, bring it to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook over medium low heat for 30-40 minutes. If it seems very thick add water, adjust this depending on how thick or brothy you like it.
3) Serve piping hot. Or cool and freeze.


pdc said...

interesting the crushed tomatoes, will try in my next soup, and looks yummy, I made yellow pea soup this week also so good and comforting
this one is next Thank you

Anonymous said...

It's true.. this is the perfect hardy, winter, comfort soup!!!!

Jackie said...

The soup looks delicious, not to mention warm and filling. So many of my favorite ingredients rolled into one bowl.

Work Week Chef said...

I Have been searching for a spicy Lentil and Barley Soup Recipe! Thank you!!

Work Week Chef said...

This soup looks so good1 I have been searching for something just like this!

thank you!