Cabbage, Potato, Zucchini, Mushroom, Barley soup with Bacon

INGREDIENTS Serves 8-10

9 slices bacon, cut into 1-2 inch pieces

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut in 1/2 -inch pieces

1 small head cabbage – savory, green or Napa variety, cored, cut into 2 inch pieces (1 1/4 lb)

8 oz fresh mushroom, crimini type, brushed cleaned, or a variety you have – cut in thirds

2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 cup barley, pearl variety – long cooking type

2 3/4 cup water

5 cup chicken broth

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp soy bean paste

1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce

1 Tbsp Maggie seasoning

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

salt and pepper

1/4 cup minced fresh chives

PROCESS

1 In a large Dutch Oven, sauté the bacon 5-7 minutes on medium heat until nearly crisp, remove to a paper towel covered plate, leaving the fat in the pan.

2 Bring to a boil 2 3/4 cups water in a large pot, add a half teaspoon of salt. Add the barley, return to a simmer. Cover and cook about 30 minutes. Most of the water should have been soaked up by the barley, but, there should still be a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat off, and leave covered.

3 In the Dutch oven add the onion and zucchini, cook 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Add the cabbage and mushrooms, cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally as the mushrooms release their moisture, and the the cabbage begins to wilt. Add a half teaspoon of salt, and a bit less of pepper, or to your preference. Add the garlic, cook on low heat 1-2 minutes.

4 Add the potatoes, the bay leaves and the chicken broth, bring all to a boil. Lower the heat to medium – low, cover and cook 15-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. During the last ten minutes add the cooked barley, the bacon, chives, soy bean paste, Worcestershire sauce and Maggie seasoning. Cook until incorporated on medium-low, about 5 minutes. Remove about twelve pieces of potato, mash them slightly with a fork or potato masher, then return them to the pot. Reheat for a few minutes. This process, along with the barley, will thicken the soup, but sometimes it’s slow to thicken. If after five or ten minutes, the soup appears too thick, add a little water or chicken stock. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

TIPS AND TWEAKS

For added flavor add 2 cut up stalks of celery along with 2 cut-up carrots at step 3. You may need to cook these vegetables a bit longer.

At step 4, if you have a small amount of leftover vegetables, add them here.

To add a nice crunch to the soup, add one full can of sliced water chestnuts, with the water, toward the end of step 4.

This picture shows a cup of cooked pasta on top, since I had leftovers from the previous night, I added it to the soup.

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