This vegetarian barley, beans and vegetable soup with greens recipe packs a nutritional punch that’s delicious and satisfying. It’s easy to prepare and almost too pretty to eat.

1/2 pound carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups onions
3 cloves garlic
1-1/2 cups mushrooms
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups barley, cooked
1 16-ounce can Great Northern beans
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1-1/2 pounds (6 – 7 cups) collard greens
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Pepper, freshly cracked and ground
Hot pepper sauce (Crystal Sauce, if you have it)
1/2 red bell pepper (optional)

Scrub the carrots and cut into quarters lengthwise, then chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Skin and chop the onions. Skin and mince the garlic. Wipe debris from the mushrooms and slice. Drain the beans. Wash, stem and chop the collard greens. Slice bell pepper into thin strips.

Place the olive oil in a Dutch oven and place over medium heat. When hot, add the carrots, onion and garlic; cook for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms. Continue stirring frequently and cook for 5 – 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and begin to release their juices.

Add the broth, barley, beans, bay leaves, sugar and thyme. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and stir in the vinegar. Add pepper sauce to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with red bell pepper strips.

Yield: approximately 10 cups.

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