Making Something Out of Nothing

It’s been a L.O.N.G. week that was emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining. And as a result, something occurred that doesn’t happen often–our fridge is quite barren. With D out of the house tonight, I was on my own for dinner and was taken back to the days of cooking for one!

It’s also been 40 degrees and raining for the entire week, when normally in SC it’s in the 60’s and sunny, so things are pretty dreary. And with dreary and exhaustion comes soup… naturally! Soup is one of my favorite meals because it’s so easy to throw something together, it tastes differently every time, and because if you don’t like it, you can always doctor it as you go to make it what you want. Tonight’s soup actually started as a broccoli cheddar bisque, but after I smelled the onions and mushrooms together I knew it was headed in an entirely different direction and am thrilled with the way it turned out! Plus, it was the perfect way to use some produce that had seen better days, but I’d hate to let go to waste!

Broccoli and Asparagus Soup with Barley

-1/2 large onion, diced
-10 baby portobella mushrooms, cleaned WELL and diced
-dried sage
-garlic powder
-1 quart (32 oz) vegetable broth
-1 head broccoli, washed and cut into small pieces
-1/2 bunch of asparagus, washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-1/4 cup barley

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or deep saucepan and saute onions with salt and pepper (medium heat) until they soften. Add in the diced mushrooms and sprinkle the pan with garlic powder and sage–about 1 tsp each. Cook until the mushrooms have reduced in size by at least half–they’ll start to release the water that makes up the volume of the mushroom and that’s when it’ll start smelling great!

Once the onions and mushrooms are soft, add in the vegetable stock, broccoli, and asparagus. Cook on medium-high heat until the broccoli and asparagus are easily pierced with a fork. Bring the soup to a boil and add in the barley, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the barley is soft and chewy and the flavors have come together. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Oh my goodness, holy soup heaven! I had 2 bowls of this VEGAN amazingness-it’s chock full of veggies and broth (versus a cream base) but the heartiness of the mushrooms and barley makes it quite filling and satisfying. The beauty of soup is that it freezes well, so if you’re cooking for 1 (or even 2!) you can freeze leftovers and don’t necessarily have to eat the same thing for multiple days. However, I can’t wait for leftovers of this healthy and delicious soup tomorrow– although lunch in the office won’t be the same as curling up on the couch in sweatpants with a warm bowl and a lazy puppy!