Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Bean And Barley Soup


I’ve been interested in cooking with different grains lately for health reasons, but also for diversity.  We recently rediscovered cracked wheat cereal and it’s not as terrible as I remember when I was a kid.  My cute mom would try to make us eat it, but to no avail!  The mistake she made with that was to have a variety of cold cereals tucked neatly into the cupboards. What sugar-infused kid wouldn’t prefer the artificial rush of manufactured cereal over cracked wheat?  We were good at holding out, that’s for sure! I've wondered what other kinds of grains are out there that I haven’t tried, but want to now!

 I’ve chosen barley as my grain du jour and will be focusing on some recipes here for the next little while.  For one thing, barley is a natural appetite suppressant, keeping you filled up for up to 16 hours, while being tasty and  nutritious. As someone who loves to eat-- and eat a lot--this would be a great weight control tool!  I know from first-hand experience that while it is hard enough to practice portion control when feeling satisfied, it is virtually impossible when hungry! 

Barley has the most fiber of all the grains, which is why you stay feeling fuller, longer.  It may also have anti-diabetes and anti-obesity actions.  Basically, it is eaten like rice, except it takes longer to cook.   Hulled barley is the best, because it has the tough outer shell taken off, but is still not processed other than that.  It’s also best to soak it overnight unless you are cooking it for a long time.

I made a Bean and Barley soup in the crock pot that was really tasty and super easy! It had Parmesan Cheese, bacon and lots of veggies. 

 I actually utilized the rind on the cheese, which is naturally salty, to give it a bit more flavor.  Also, because it's summer, I put my pot outside on a bar stool because I don't want the extra heat inside! That's why it's called Summer Bean and Barley Soup!  Put the pot inside and it becomes Winter Bean and Barley Stew!  See how that works?

Adding the rind to the mix!



Ingredients

1 cup multi-bean mix or Great Northern Beans, rinsed and soaked overnight.

½ cup barley

3 cloves garlic, smashed

3 medium carrots, roughly chopped

2 ribs celery, roughly chopped

½ medium onion, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf
4 tsp. dried Italian herb blend

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 14-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes with juice

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 Parmesan cheese rind

Optional: 4 - 5 crisp bacon strips, crumbled, Hot n' Spicy All Purpose Seasoning
Mixture before cooking and adding water


 Directions
Put beans, barley, vegetables and seasonings and cheese rind into a crock pot.  Add 6 cups water, cover, and cook on high until the beans are tender and the soup is thick, which could be 6 – 8 hours. 

1 hour before done, add the tomatoes and stir well.  Just before serving, add the Parmesan and the crumbled bacon.  If you have any Hot 'n Spicy All Purpose Seasoning, you can put that on and it really makes the flavor pop! I use Spike. Serve with a crusty bread and salad.  You'll stay full for quite awhile! 
 
Finished Soup, ready to add condiments
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