Tomato soup with barley and basil

This hot soup segues between seasons, combining the warm comfort needed for winter’s swan song with the bright zest of tomatoes and basil. Is it spring yet? Technically yes, although all the winter colds and flus are yet to receive the memo, and we still have some rain in the forecast. So best eat your soup now, before it’s too warm.

This soup cooks a bit more quickly if you’ve presoaked your barely. If you haven’t, you might as well put it in water when you start prepping your vegetables. It’ll speed things up slightly.

For four nice servings:

  • oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • about 10 button mushrooms (nearly a full plastic basket), chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped, and leaves removed
  • about 8 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (±1 kilo; alternately use an 800-gram can of whole or chunked tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup barley, preferably presoaked
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 c basil leaves (4 big stalks’ worth)

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: about 30 minutes, depending on your barley.

Add some oil to your cooking pot and heat on a medium flame. Put the onions in the pot to soften, and then add the mushrooms and celery. Once all the vegetables are slightly soft, add the tomatoes, barely (without the soaking liquid) and salt.

Top with 1.5 liters of water and let simmer until the barely is soft. This will take about 30-40 minutes if your barley hasn’t been presoaked, and less if it has. Once the soup is cooked, stir in the chopped basil leaves and serve.

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