When it gets to be chilly outside and fall finally shows up, I become a soup fiend. There is nothing I like better at that time of year. Plus soup is one of those things that is pretty easy to adapt to be vegetarian (even if it almost never is in restaurants) so I have a lot of recipes. Today I thought I’d share my all-time favorite soup recipe. I know it originally came from a cookbook somewhere, but I changed a lot until it ended up as this Caramelized Onion & Barley Soup. It’s a great recipe because it’s hearty and really flavorful but doesn’t have a lot of ingredients. I love it so much I even brought it to some friends when this little guy was born and they loved it too!
Caramelized Onion & Barley Soup
2 large onions, chopped small
2 Tb tomato paste
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 cup pearled barley
10 cups water
2 tsp KOSHER salt
1. Chop your onions and start carmelizing them with some olive oil in a wide stock pot.
If you haven’t caramelized onions before, the key is to be really really patient. Start them on medium heat and then when they start to brown turn them down and stir frequently. I usually add a squirt of honey and splash of red wine vinegar. Sounds weird but tastes amazing. The other thing you can do to speed things along and cook your onions at a higher heat, is to add a little water if the pan gets dry.
Be patient and let them get as dark as you can without burning. I cooked them even longer after this.
2. When they are really caramelized, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes.
3. Add the dried rosemary. (I am, generally speaking, not a big rosemary fan, it can be kind of strong and I know this seems like a lot of dried rosemary but for some reason in this recipe, it isn’t strong at all. Trust me!)
4. Add the water, salt and some chopped carrots, stir thoroughly and taste to make sure you have enough salt. If you decide to use stock instead of water, use a lot less salt! If you substitute regular salt for Kosher salt, same thing, use less or it will be too salty!
5. When the water comes up to a boil, add the pearled barley and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes until the barley is soft like al dente pasta.
This soup gets even better as leftovers. And it may seem like a lot of liquid but, in the fridge, the barley absorbs even more water and it will definitely thicken up.
What’s your favorite kind of soup?