another must have (make) soup: crimini mushrooms, zucchini, and pearl barley soup with fresh rosemary

when i was growing up our meals reflected the availability of the seasonal produce in our local “baghalis” or neighborhood markets. today some of us are moving back towards embracing that same traditional approach to cooking and eating as we realize how important the quality (and  origin) of the food we eat is to our health and well being. no matter the season, my childhood meals were always accompanied by an abundance of home made pickles, preserves, jams, and syrups-all varieties of condiments that preserved the life of the produce well past its seasonal prime.  i vividly remember the pungent smell of large vats of crushed grapes turning into vinegar at the end of my grandmother’s garden (the smell almost made you woozy), and waking up to the sweet smell of jam being made with the last of the sour cherries towards the end of summer. partly in an attempt to keep some of these old(new) traditions alive, i’m making a serious effort these days to buy and use local and seasonal produce (often from farmers markets), and to “make do” with what i have available rather than go out for specific ingredients geared towards a particular recipe. that is how (and why) the following soup came to be-i had made a vegetarian chili with crimini mushrooms and zucchini and had some of both left over. in thinking about how these two ingredients could work together, soup (love soups) came to mind. simple as that-crimini mushrooms, zucchini, a couple of potatoes….then some (good for you) coconut milk and fresh rosemary from the garden-still in need of some substance: in came the pearl barley…and a new soup was born. we had it for dinner…it was a big hit.
chopped vegetables being sauteed in oil with rosemary
  • 2 medium zucchini-cubed
  • 15-20 crimini mushrooms-cubed
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large yellow or white onion
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1.5-2 cups coconut milk
  • 1-2 tsps organic coconut oil
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup barley (i used pearl)
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 large lime or 1/2 lemon
pearl barley

cooking directions:

cube the onion, dice the mushrooms & zucchini, and sautee in oil (in a deep heavy pot) for about 5-7 minutes until tender. coarsly chop the rosemary, then add to the vegetables with sea salt and pepper to taste. add cubed potatoes (you could also leave these out), broth (chicken or vegetarian), and coconut milk, and simmer for about 20 minutes. add the rinsed barley to the soup and cook for another 30-40 minutes. add the freshly squeezed lemon juice about five minutes before serving. simple as that. enjoy!
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