Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quick Vegetable Barley Soup

Because I use this blog to keep notes to myself, I have to post this savory soup quickly before I forget the recipe. I cook grandma-style, meaning that a little bit of this and that goes into the pot, which is great for getting a meal ready, but not so great if I want to reproduce a memorable meal.

I know I've gone on and on about my pressure cooker, so I'll spare you. If you still do not have one of these time saving tools, what are you waiting for? The new pressure cookers don't sound like angry snakes, and the chances of them becoming kitchen bombs are nil if you're not in the habit of leaving your stove on high and walking away.

Anyway, back to the soup: I wanted to make a potato leek soup, but a quick look at my produce bin revealed carrots, mushrooms, corn on the cob, and a bunch of spinach. I also wanted this to be filling, so in went a handful of barley. To save time, first peel the carrots and potatoes, roughly chop the leek greens, and stem the mushrooms so you can get the vegetable stock prepared. Then, while the stock is cooking, chop the vegetables. From start to finish, this soup took me 35 minutes, but only 10 minutes of active time.

Vegetable Barley Soup

1 leek, separated into white parts thinly sliced and green parts roughly chopped
2 carrots, diced and peels reserved
5 brown mushrooms, diced and stems reserved
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
3 yukon gold potatoes, diced and peels reserved
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 bunch of spinach, chopped
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated

In the pressure cooker, add 8 cups of water and the leek greens, mushroom stems, carrot peels, and potato peels, and a pinch of salt. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and bring it to high pressure. Cook for 15 minutes. Release the pressure, and strain the stock. Set the stock aside.

Over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add olive oil. Sauté the leek whites, carrots, mushrooms, and pinch of salt for 4 minutes or until the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add potatoes, corn, and pearl barley, and reserved stock. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and bring it to high pressure. Cook for 20 minutes. Release the pressure, and stir in the spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese.

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