Beef and barley vegetable soup

Posted: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

1 pound lean ground beef

Rimmed white soup bowls, garnished with minced fresh parsley, makes a good canvas for colorful beef and barley vegetable soup. Since barley readily absorbs the flavors of the foods it is cooked with, "pearled" barley is an ideal ingredient in soups and stews. Barley is a good source of fiber, contains no saturated fat or cholesterol and is very low in sodium.

1 small onion, chopped

One cup sliced celery

1 cup fresh sliced carrots

1/2 (10-ounce) bag fresh cut green beans

1 medium to large zucchini, sliced

1/2 (10-ounce) box frozen spinach

1/2 cup frozen peas

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 quarts low-sodium beef broth

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained

1-1/2 cups "quick" pearled barley

1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon dried basil

1-2 bay leaves

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, lightly brown meat. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat, then stir in onion, celery, carrots and green beans. Cook for 10 minutes. (If needed, some water to the cooking pot.)

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, tomatoes (crush tomatoes lightly with your hands), barley, parsley, basil, and bay leaf.

Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, spinach and peas and cook 10 minutes more. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste.

Remove bay leaves and garnish with fresh minced parsley before serving.

Makes about 16 (1 cup) servings.

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