The temperature is 28 degrees and much too cold to be greeting a long awaited Spring. I enjoy the hearty comforting foods of winter as much as the next gal. But enough is enough, and I look forward to embracing the bright and fresh flavors of warmer weather.
But for tonight, hopefully one last time, I will be making a hearty soup filled with goodness. Barley and white beans mingle in a tasty chicken broth topped off with ribbons of hearty escarole. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese and serve it forth one last time before Spring.
Barley, Bean and Escarole SoupAdapted from a recipe from Eat This Poem
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 cup barley
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken stock plus 2 cups water
1 small head escarole, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
Parmesan cheese for serving
Add onion, fennel, carrot, celery and garlic into bowl of food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the barley and cook, stirring often, until the grains are slightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Add the chopped vegetables to the barley and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook until the tomato paste is well incorporated.
Pour the broth into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the barley is tender, 20 to 40 forty minutes. Stir in the escarole and beans and cook, uncovered, until the escarole has wilted and the beans have warmed through.
Cook's Note: If the barley has absorbed too much liquid, just add a bit more water to the soup when you stir in the escarole and beans.