Friday, July 10, 2009

Barley and pesto soup

I love soup. Even in the summer, even in Florida, I can't go for more than a few days without eating a comforting bowl of steamy goodness. Barely soup was a staple of my childhood, something they cooked in the Northeast of Italy with pieces of pork and speck. I make many variations of it, depending on the season and on whatever I get at the farmer's market, but one of my favorites is this version, with fava beans, sweet baby peas and pesto. I especially enjoy this recipe in the summer months because pesto and basil make it a refreshing alternative to most soups -and also because for once my basil plant is striving so I want to use it before it dies. If you don't have fava beans handy, just double up on the sweet peas -it's a variation I make sometimes when I don't feel like driving to store to buy just one ingredient.

Barley and pesto soup

(for 4)

Barley, 1 cup
Vegetable broth 8 cups
Salt and pepper, to taste
Frozen sweet peas, 1 1/2 cups
Fava beans, 1 1/2 cups
Canned corn, half can
A carrot, diced
Pesto, 4 tablespoons

In a large dutch oven, pour vegetable broth -or make it with cubes. This is a simple summer recipe, so it's not worth making stock from scratch. Bring broth to a boil, add barley, stir and reduce heat. Simmer for about a half hour or until cooked (but not overcooked and mushy).

Add peas, fava beans, corn and carrots. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until veggies are done but still somewhat crunchy.

Remove from heat and stir in pesto. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with a basil leaf.

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