Another delicious dish inspired by a random pantry find – in this case, the forgotten remains of a bag of pearled barley. Yay for pantry discoveries that turn into easy, tasty meals!
Loaded with satisfyingly chewy grains of barley, winter veggies, tomato paste for added richness, and green peas and spinach for green goodness, this soup is hearty, earthy, and perfect for a cold winter night. A spoonful of bright, lemony herb pesto stirred into each bowl makes for the perfect finish.
I love that this recipe is flexible and can be customized around the ingredients you have on hand: use brown rice or farro as the grain, add cubed sweet potato or winter squash for a sweet and starchy element, use veggie stock or homemade bone broth as the liquid (or water plus a cube of good veggie bouillon, such as Rapunzel), sub in shelled edamame or frozen corn kernels for the green peas – you get the idea! I had about a cup of leftover cooked vaquero beans in the fridge, so I added those in for extra protein — cooked lentils would also be a nice addition.
The lemon-herb pesto is more rustic in texture than the usual pesto — it actually leans in the direction of a gremolata, but with the addition of olive oil. Rather than use a food processor or mortar & pestle, I finely chopped the leafy herbs and used my microplane to finely grate the garlic clove and zest the lemon into a small bowl, then stirred in a couple of glugs of olive oil to bring everything together.
You might want to consider making a double portion of this pesto-gremolata hybrid, since it’s amazing as a bright finish for any wintry soup, and would also be perfect slathered on crostini and topped with crumbled chèvre, added to a veggie sandwich or used to enrich a dressing, vinaigrette, or dip (I’m thinking hummus – definitely!). Feel free to use the fresh, leafy herbs of your choice: I imagine it would be delicious with dill, basil, or a bit of marjoram or oregano (and since those last two are quite pungent I would use just a teaspoon or so as a flavor accent, along with another herb). Read More