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Barley Minestrone

Rain! Wind! Fading light! When it gets dark early, I get lazy(er) and don’t feel like cooking when I get home at night. Having a pot of soup in the fridge is so fantastic that I don’t even mind eating it all week. This version of minestrone is great in that it helps me clean out the veg drawer and is a little heartier than the traditional recipe (though from what I read, there are a million variations), with the addition of barley. You can definitely vary the vegetables you put in.

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Barley Minestrone

4-5 strips bacon
olive oil
1/3 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 red potatoes, cubed
2 large stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
handful green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 zucchini, cubed
½ bulb fennel, chopped
1-2 cups roughly chopped kale (optional)
48 oz. chicken broth
28 oz. canned tomatoes – whole, in tomato juice, roughly chopped, or snipped with scissors
2 cans white cannelini beans, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 ½ T dried oregano
rind of Parmesan cheese*
½ cup barley
¼ cup parsley leaves and stalks
Salt & pepper

Chop bacon and render in a dutch oven. Add a little olive oil and saute onion, carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic, fennel, beans and zucchini in the bacon fat and olive oil for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth, cannelini beans, tomatoes and barley, then bay leaves, oregano, thyme, and the Parmesan rind. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add kale if you want, parsley and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan and toast.

* When you finish up a piece of Parmesan, freeze the rind until you make this soup!

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