Great, healthy Fall soup recipe.
Cook in a slow-cooker or crock pot, or regular stove-top. Takes about 8 hours in a crockpot, about 2 stovetop. Feels more like a vegetarian stew than a soup – it’s nice and thick. Very low in fat.
- 1 cup dried great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
- 6 cups water, or vegetable, chicken or beef broth
- 1 can (14 ounces) whole tomatoes, with juice
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped, include those leafy tops for yummy flavor
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (totally optional, I leave it out)
- 1/2 cup pearled barley, picked over and rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend, or fresh herbs of your choice like thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, etc.
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces of baby spinach leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I leave this out, too)
- olive oil, to drizzle on top when serving
- Combine beans, broth/water, tomatoes, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, fennel (if desired), barley, bay leaf, and ground pepper in soup pot or crock pot.
- Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender and the soup is thick, about 2 hours on the stove or 8 in the crockpot.
- Stir in the spinach, salt, and vinegar, then cover and cook until the spinach wilts, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf, then taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Ladle soup into warmed bowls, sprinkle cheese on top if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.
- Serve immediately.
- Serves 4.