Friday, December 16, 2011

Hearty and Healthy Cabbage and Barley Soup

So this was the recipe I'd intended to share on Wednesday, until Blogger ate my post - recipe, photos and all. Perhaps you should take that as a sign of how delicious it is? But seriously, things worked out for the best because Wednesday ended up being unseasonably warm and sunny (it reached 70°F - in December!) and today is, once again, cold and wintry and pouring down rain. In short, it's the perfect day for a mug of this winter warming soup.

Packed with nutrient-rich cabbage and antioxidant-laden stewed tomatoes, this soup is a deliciously powerful tool against the cold and flu season. It's also full of carrots, onions, and garlic, all floating in a rich vegetable broth. Cabbage soup may have gotten bad rap ever since the introduction of the crazy Cabbage Soup Diet, but this is no tummy-rumbling, starvation-rations, diet soup. The addition of pearled barley makes it hearty and filling, without compromising any of the health benefits.

This soup is perfectly suited to this busy time of year - it can be adapted to contain all kids of seasonal veggies (celery, fennel, or parsnips, for example, make a good addition and you can include potatoes for an even heartier soup) which you just cut up and add to the pot. As simple as that! I rarely make it the same way twice, but it always tastes delicious. The tomato flavor is quite dominant, so you might even be able to persuade the cabbage-haters in your family to give it a try. If that doesn't work, try adding a bit of lean ground beef and calling it 'Hamburger Soup' (can you tell I've tried this one with Matt?).

Hearty Cabbage and Barley Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
4-5 large carrots, sliced into rounds
8 cups water
Vegetable bouillon, to taste (about 4 teaspoons)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 large head cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed, diced tomatoes
1/2 cup pearled barley
1 bay leaf (optional)

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until fragrant and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in carrots and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add water, bouillon, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the cabbage and reduce the heat to simmer until the cabbage is softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, barley and bay leaf and return to a boil. Simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley is cooked. Serve with a crust of fresh bread and top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, if desired.

A few notes: Since I don't usually cook with recipes, I try to write my ingredients and quantities down as I'm cooking. Unfortunately, this soup was the product of a busy afternoon (and a victim of Blogger's capriciousness) so I hope I was able to remember and record things faithfully. In any case, this recipe will provide you with a good base soup, to which you can add your own touches. I often add celery, if I have it on hand, and sometimes omit the bay leaf. Non-vegetarians can also substitute chicken or beef stock for the vegetable bouillon. You can swap out the barley for lentils (or leave them out altogether)  and a pinch or two of oregano or rosemary wouldn't go amiss, either.

This hearty soup keeps for days in the fridge - in fact, I think the flavor is best after a day or two. It's a low fat soup, so it can be eaten cold (like gazpacho), but on days like today, warmth is key. Served steaming hot, with a chuck of fresh bread, there's no finer way to ward off the winter chill.

This post is shared at:
Craft-O-Maniac: Monday Link Party - It's So Very Cheri: It's Party Time - Making the World Cuter: Making the World Cuter Monday - Skip to My Lou: Made By You Monday - The Southern Institute: Creative Me Monday - The Girl Creative: Just Something I Whipped Up - 33 Shades of Green: Tasty Tuesday - Chef in Training: Tuesday Talent Show - Today's Creative Blog: Get Your Craft On - Funky Polkadot Giraffe: Too Cute Tuesday - JAQS Studio: Made By Me - Fingerprints on the Fridge: Feature Yourself Friday - Simply Designing: Simply Link - Creation Corner: Friday Link Party - The Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday - Whipperberry: Friday Flair Link Party - Not Your Ordinary Recipes: Foodie Friday - kojodesigns: Friday Fun Finds - Happy Hour Projects: Freestyle Friday - Joyful Stamper: Inspire Me Friday - Making Lemonade: Refresh Your Nest - A Little Knick Knack: Everything But the Kitchen Sink - Petite Hermine: Sunday Linky Party - Flamingo Toes: Think Pink Sunday


  1. This looks yummy, I'll have to try it. LOVE the blue pottery mug you used, too!

  2. Thanks, Ann! The mug is from a set of two my husband and I bought on our honeymoon. We call them our 'honeymugs' :)

  3. I love soup. This looks like a yummy recipe for winter days.

  4. I added a little bit of diced ham for flavor and some beans I had leftover from bean soup. Yummy soup!