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vegetable barley soup with the taste of little india {ffwd}

Soup with Indian Flavors

I love a good bowl of soup. It warms me from the inside out. This first week of spring has been particularly cold, so this week’s recipe selection for French Fridays with Dorie, Vegetable Barley Soup with the Taste of Little India, was quite welcome.

Chopped Root Vegetables

As the name suggests, this soup is a root vegetable barley soup dressed up with Indian flavors: ginger, garam masala, and turmeric. We’re getting to the bottom of the barrel with the winter vegetables stashed in the makeshift root cellar in my basement, but I found carrots and a parsnip in there. The rest of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen. I reduced the chicken stock to one quart, as I usually do with Dorie’s soup recipes. This was very easy to throw together. And fast. A pot of hearty soup was ready in an hour, from start to finish.

Vegetables in Sunlight?

However… I would say I’d have preferred the basic version of the soup. I love Indian food, so, in principle, it wasn’t that I don’t like the spices used. I just didn’t love it in the soup. And I did love the vegetable and barley combination. I particularly enjoyed the parsnip. It always adds a unique flavor to any dish. Next time, it’s plain vegetable barley soup for me.

On an exciting note, I’m having dinner with Mardi of Eat.Live.Travel.Write. tonight. It’s a mini-Dorista meetup, on a Friday, of course.

To see what the other Doristas thought of their Indian-flavored soups, check their links here. The recipe can be found in Bill Daley’s recent article in the Chicago Tribute about French Fridays and other online cooking groups. He interviewed me for the article, so you can also read a few quotes of mine. Of course, the recipe can also be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

Soup Season

Soup Ingredients

The month of January has been filled with wild temperature swings. The past few days have been frigid, starting in single digits, but staying well south of freezing. And yet, we saw a balmy 50 just this past weekend and 60 one day last week. Climate change is in the air, and something needs to stabilize it.

I do love winter, though maybe not as much as I used to. I certainly prefer winter to summer. The trick is to dress properly. In winter, you can bundle up. In summer, you can only take off so many clothes. My mainstay has been my flannel-lined jeans. That extra layer helps cut the wind and generally keeps me warmer inside and out.

Another trick is eating soup. A bowl of soup is just what the doctor (or maybe the weatherman?) ordered. I’ve made so many delicious pots of soup this month; I just haven’t gotten around to sharing about them.

Here’s a little roundup of my favorites:

carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas

This carrot soup is from Smitten Kitchen. The soup itself is nothing exciting, just a simple carrot puree. What makes this soup special are the garnishes: a lemony tahini sauce to swirl in, crispy chickpeas to sprinkle on top (though flavorful, mine were not very crispy), and za’atar topped pita chips (my new favorite snack). A bowl of this fully-adorned soup is a keeper!

cauliflower soup

This cauliflower soup was recommended by my Dorista friend Teresa from One Wet Foot. My previous go-to cauliflower soup starts with roasted cauliflower. This one does this same. However, Teresa’s soup is seasoned with curry powder. The curry powder also imparts a slight yellow tinge to the soup (you can’t really tell from the photo). This soup achieves a silky, creamy texture without any cream, so it will become my new go-to cauliflower soup recipe. Delicious!

turkey mushroom barley soup

Finally, drawing on inspiration from the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator, I created a pot of Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup. I thawed turkey bones from the freezer to make into rich stock in the slow cooker. To the finished stock, I added a complement of hearty vegetables (about 6 cups in all) and some barley and let it simmer until the barley was nearly tender. Finally, sautéed mushrooms and chopped turkey (frozen leftovers from Thanksgiving) were added to the pot. The result was a thick, hearty soup to warm us from the inside out.

Spring doesn’t usually arrive in these parts until April (optimistically), so there will be many more pots of soup in my future. Do you have a favorite recipe to recommend? Please share!

Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup
Serves 8

8 cups turkey stock (chicken would be fine)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 turnips, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup barley
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, combine stock, onion, carrots, celery, turnips, and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 40 minutes, until barley is nearly tender. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms until they have given up all their liquid and the liquid in the skillet evaporates. The mushrooms should be tender at this point. When the stock has simmered for 40 minutes, the barley should be nearly tender. Add the mushrooms and turkey. Continue to cook the soup until the barley is completely tender and the turkey is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.