Soup’s On: Rustic Mushroom Barley Soup

I’ve got an easy recipe today that yields a healthy, hearty stew/soup–
Rustic Mushroom Barley Soup.  

Doing inventory of grains currently living in my kitchen cabinet, I came across a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Hull-less Barley and was eager to use it up…barley seems like such a Winter grain to me, perfect for soup and ingredients I had on hand.  Hull-less Barley is the whole grain, including the bran layer (which is typically removed in the processing of pearled barley).  It has a chewy texture and is a great source of protein and fiber.

Source: Bob's Red Mill

Rustic Mushroom Barley Soup

Prep & Cooking time:  2 hours
Serves:  Lots…you’ll get at least a few lunches and/or dinners out of this recipe

The ingredients list is short but the cooking time is a bit long…once the soup is cooking, it’s a good time to take an hour and read a book, do a yoga DVD, or catch up on your favorite blogs!

Prepped veggies

*5-6 stalks of celery, chopped
*1 lb carrots, peeled & chopped
*2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
*1 small onion, sliced
* 1 clove garlic
*1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
*Seasoning of your choice to taste (I used a sample packet of Bragg 24 Herbs & Spices Seasoning and some Italian seasoning)
*Garlic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*32 oz. of vegetable broth/stock + water as needed
*1 and 1/4 cup barley
* 1 can of cannellini beans  (rinsed and drained)


1.  Chop all of your veggies.
2.  Spray a soup pot with non-stick spray (or use olive oil – I went the spray route to avoid added fat)
3.  Saute the garlic, carrots, onion, and celery until tender.
4.  Add the seasoning, salt and pepper, mushrooms, and apple cider vinegar and cook for a few minutes.
5.  Add  the broth and barley and bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat  and simmer for 1 hour or until the barley is done to the desired tenderness.  Add water or additional broth as needed…the barley soaks up the liquid as it cooks.
7.  Add the beans and allow to heat through.
8.  Enjoy!

Soup's On!

A few options –  you could add white wine during cooking for an extra zing, and to save time, cook the barley ahead of time.  That will reduce the overall cooking time and you’ll just have to saute the veggies, add the broth, barley, beans and heat through (this would reduce the need for added liquid during cooking).  


This soup got the thumb’s up from my Quality Assurance Guy – I was relieved because otherwise I’d be eating this pot of soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week!  Please let me know if you try the recipe!

Question:  What is in your kitchen cabinet right now that you’re trying to use up?


Happy Birthday Princess Kate

Today’s post is a little tongue-in-cheek.  It’s to say Happy Birthday to the Duchess of Cambridge.

On more than one occasion I’ve been told I resemble Kate Middleton.

Sporty Kate

Sporty Nicole

It’s a compliment and one that I always makes me laugh a bit.  I’d like to think that in a Princess emergency, I could stand in for her–you should see my elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist wave.  A big difference though:  she wore a floor-length gown to see the movie War Horse.  I wore jeans and a fleece sweatshirt.

In honor of Kate Middleton’s 30th birthday, I created Princess Kate Sweet Potato Kakes.  This isn’t a fancy recipe but came together quickly with ingredients I had on hand.

Princess Kate Sweet Potato Kakes

2 baked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 a can of black beans
1/2 red pepper
1 handfull of spinach leaves
1 tsp chili powder or cumin
dash of garlic salt
dash of pepper
(Optional but recommended:  juice of one lemon or lime, fresh parsley or cilantro)

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees
*Cook the sweet potatoes (I pierced them and put in the microwave for 10 min)
*Cook the quinoa and let cool
*Place sweet potatoes (I left skins on),  pepper, spinach, beans, salt and pepper, chili powder/cumin, parsley in a food processor and process until mashed/blended.
*Combine the potato mixture with the quinoa and stir together
*Form mixture into patties and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet (I recommend spraying the foil with non-stick spray)
*Bake 12 minutes, flip and bake another 12 minutes
*Turn on the broiler and broil on each side for about 5 min until crisp
*Makes approximately 10 patties

Princess Kate Sweet Potato Kate

I recommend serving these warm–perhaps on a bed of mixed greens, with salsa, and even an avocado.  These are not the prettiest Kakes, but they are tasty and pack a nutritional punch.  As I was making them, the QAG came into my kitchen and said, “You certainly have something going on there, don’t you?”
I have a sweeter version in mind for another test-kitchen operation that will include apples, of course.

Question:  Who have you been told you look like?