Vegetable Bean Soup with Barley

Submitted by: Krista

4 quarts water
1/2 pound kidney beans, picked over
1/2 pound great northern beans, picked over
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 small onions, chopped
1/4 pound barley
6 carrots, chopped
1/2 bunch celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
One 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, crushed with hands
2 large potatoes, diced
1/2 10 oz. bag fresh spinach, hard stems removed, rinsed and chopped
salt to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper

Bring water to a boil. Stir in kidney beans, and cook uncovered over medium heat for 50 minutes. Add great northern beans, garlic, parsley, onions, and barley. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add carrots, celery, basil, oregano, bay leaf and tomatoes.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 1 hour, or until beans are tender. Add the potatoes, spinach, salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently for 30 minutes. Test for seasoning.

This takes a long time to make, so what I usually do is either put it all into a crockpot and cook all day or make a big pot of veggie broth, add onion, garlic, all veggies except spinach, seasonings and tomatoes and cook until about half way done. Dump in a few cans each of kidney and great northern beans. Cook until slightly underdone and add spinach.  Finish cooking.

I will slightly undercooked some and portion into Tupperware, and leave to cool on the counter. Once cooled and lidded, put in the freezer (hence, the undercooking.)
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