Yum! This is one of our favorite soups. I've made it several times this winter, each time doubling it so I have plenty to share or freeze or use later in the week.
The recipe was more complicated to start with (using canned broth and simmering it with garlic, rosemary, and crushed red pepper), but I find that I'm liking my adaptation better. I prefer using dried beans to canned, and I usually have my own stock to use. So, here is another adaption of an originally Cooking Light recipe.
Hearty Bean Soup with Barley
1 pound dried beans (dark red kidney or great northern)
2 (4 inch) rosemary sprigs
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2-3 cups chicken stock (depends on how thick you like your soup)
1 (14 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked barley
10 cups torn spinach leaves (about 4 ounces)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Rinse and soak beans overnight.
2. Drain beans and cover with water (about 5-6 cups). Add rosemary sprigs, a pinch of salt, and crushed garlic cloves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, (with lid vented) for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, or until beans are nearly done. Remove 1 cup of beans and mash with a fork.
3. Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook 4 minutes (until slightly tender).
4. Add mashed beans, beans in water, tomatoes, barley and chicken stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 34-40 minutes (until barley is tender). Stir in spinach and black pepper. Cook 5 more minutes, or until spinach is wilted and everything is ready. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.
Yield: 8 servings (1 cup soup and 1 Tbl. cheese)