Red Lentil Soup with Vegetables and Barley – the ultimate fridge cleaner

Cooking Adventures (blog)

red lentil vegetable barley soup

This sounds like such a weird collection of ingredients, but alas, I needed to clean the fridge out of the few bits and pieces that I didn’t want to incorporate into another meal – half of a mushy sweet potato, broccoli stalks – because I knew I was going to use the florettes for lunch (making garlicky gingery broccoli and crispy tofu), three tomatoes that had started off life so beautifully but after a week of neglect were looking rather soft and forlorn, and leftover dill from family friends who had come for dinner bearing the most incredible vegan creamy mushroom and celery soup (that was garnished with dill). Since I ate my bodyweight in carbs yesterday (half a baguette, vegan grilled cheese on the most amazing 9 grain bread, a piece of vegan lasagna, cookies, and ramen) I wanted a cleansing soup, but I needed it to be hearty enough to double as a meal. For me that means the inclusion of grains and beans is a necessity, but in a quantity sparse enough to simply add texture and body, and not to take over the soup. Red lentils add a creamy savoury note, and I love love love the chewy texture of barley. Needless to say, I ate two bowls of this soup for breakfast and spent the rest of the day raving about it to all who would listen.

1/3 cup barley
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1/2 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
Broccoli stalks, peeled and chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 bouillon cube
6 cups water
1/3 cup red lentils, rinsed well
1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar/squeeze of lemon juice
1/3 cup dill, chopped
Salt & pepper


Rinse your barley well and place it in a small pot with the cup of water and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat on high, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and let cook, covered, for 40 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Now get started on your soup. In a large/medium pot combine the oil with the chopped onion, celery, sweet potato, and broccoli stalks, and let this cook over medium high heat until lightly browned, around 7 minutes. Add the ginger and tomatoes, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes start to break down (add a splash of water if needed to prevent stickage), 3-4 minutes. Now add the water, bouillon cube, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the lentils and veggies are tender. Now add a generous pinch of salt and a good grinding of pepper, and simmer, uncovered for a final 10 minutes.

Use a hand immersion blender to puree the soup… I like it with some small chunks remaining so I’m not too meticulous in my wooooojing. Add the barley, vinegar/lemon juice, and dill, stir well, and then taste for salt and pepper.

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