If it's September, it must be time for soup.
There's been nary a nip in the air, but I had a hankering for soup the other day. So I used the excuse of Hurricane Gordon, lashing us with raindrops, to make a pot of lentil and barley soup.
There was also the problem of the vegetable bins being empty save for a few old carrots and onions, and the rain preventing me from grocery shopping. (Okay, I could have gone to the store, but I convinced myself dashing across a carpark in the rain could be hazardous. I mean, it was a hurricane.)
Soup, though, is surprisingly forgiving: if the carrots and onions weren't picked yesterday, you'll never know it once they've simmered in soup for an hour.
The next day I heated up the leftovers, but added some fresh spinach I'd picked up at the farmers' market. Eat your heart out, America. Spinach is still on my menu.
I also made some bread, which was similar to the Bread Rolls with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Walnuts from And They Cook Too. (Have you bought your copy yet?) Again, when life presents tough circumstances, baking bread is always a good response.
Lentil and Barley Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6-8 cups veggie stock (or more)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup medium barley
1/2 cup green (Le Puy) lentils, washed
1 can chopped tomatoes, or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded
2 tablespoons tomato paste
pinch of dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
Saute carrots and onion in olive oil until soft. Add stock. Bring to a boil and add garlic, barley, lentils, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve tomato paste. Lower heat, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes, checking often to add water if needed.
After the lentils and barley have softened, add dried herbs, pepper, and salt as needed. Continue to simmer over low heat, about 30 minutes more (cook for an hour, altogether). About five minutes before turning off the heat, add the fresh basil (if you have it; use dried if not).
Serve hot, with Sun-dried Tomato Bread. (Note: I substituted whole wheat flour for the unbleached flour, and lowered the amount of sugar to 2 tablespoons. This bread would also be delicious with some herbs added and/or some toasted walnuts.)