Lentil Barley Soup

1 medium yellow onion
4 garlic cloves
3 carrots
2 stalks celery
2 cubes vegetable bouillon – I use Rapunzel
Dried thyme
Dried rosemary, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Fresh ground pepper
Red pepper flakes
2 cups french lentils
2 cups green lentils
Fresh or 1/2 cup frozen spinach
1 cup barley
1/2 can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 pinch sugar
2 1/2 tsp. salt + more to taste
1/2 cup white wine

Add about two Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a large soup pot and turn heat to medium-low.  Chop the onion and add it to the pot, stirring as needed and making sure the heat is low enough so the onions cook slowly and begin to turn translucent.  Chop the garlic and add it to the pot with the onions.

Stir and add bouillon cubes and herbs to taste: plenty of dried thyme, finely chopped dried rosemary, 2 bay leaves, fresh ground pepper, and enough hot pepper flakes to give the soup warmth.  Cut the carrots and celery and add them to the pot as they are chopped, stirring occasionally.

Rinse the lentils and add them to the pot.  Boil water in a tea kettle and fill the pot until you have a soup consistency, this may require two or three tea kettles of water depending on the size of the kettle.  Some of the water will cook out, so add enough to account for that.  Salt the soup and add plenty of fresh ground pepper.
If using frozen spinach, add some now.  If using fresh spinach, put it in right at the end so it wilts just before serving.

Turn the heat to low and let the soup simmer for about 1 hour.

After an hour, add the cup of barley, the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, and sugar.  Add about 1/2 cup of white wine and taste again for salt.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  Continue to simmer the soup for another 40 minutes to an hour.

Serve with a drizzle of really good olive oil.  Can also be served with Parmesan on top or a small amount of balsamic vinegar, both of which change the flavor fairly markedly.

Notes:
I posted a recipe for lentil soup on this blog earlier, but this lentil barley soup is definitely my favorite version so far!

The quantities are approximations, since I didn’t measure anything except the lentils and barley.

You may want to add a bit more white wine than what I said here.  I didn’t want to go overboard, since again I didn’t measure, but just taste it and add more if you think it needs it.

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