Go-To Vegetable Soup

Go-To Vegetable Soup

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large or 2 small-medium onions, cut in a small dice
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup barley
~8 cups vegetable broth (I tend to use homemade freezer stock or Rapunzel bullion these days)
6 carrots, peeled or scrubbed, and sliced into thick coins
3-4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced/shredded
4 cups tomato puree
2 bay leaves
1-2 cups cooked (or par-cooked) beans
1 bunch chard, leaves and stems, washed and chopped (leaves can be roughly chopped, but make sure the stems are sliced thinly, like the celery)
1 handful chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley, basil, or whatever you have — optional)
salt and pepper


Heat a large soup pot over a medium flame (if you have a mega stockpot you could make this in a single batch, but if not you'll need another pot later). Add the onions, along with a pinch of salt, and saute until they become translucent but haven't totally collapsed, ~10 minutes (adjust head as needed so that they soften without coloring). Add the garlic and paprika, and cook for another minute or two to soften. Add the barley and vegetable broth. Raise the heat until it reaches a boil, then reduce until it's just high enough to simmer. Cook for about half an hour, until the barley is par-cooked (you can use this time to prep the remaining vegetables).

After half an hour, transfer half the mixture into a second soup pot (unless your pot is epically large). Between the two pots, divide the carrots, celery, cabbage, tomato puree, and bay leaves. If the beans are only par-cooked, add them as well (if they're fully cooked, they'll come later). Add water to cover the mixture by a generous few inches. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat until it's somewhere between a very gentle boil and a healthy simmer. Cook ~45 minutes, until the carrots are fully softened and the cabbage is mostly translucent and softened. Add the beans (if fully cooked and not yet added) and the chard and fresh herbs. Simmer another 30 minutes, until everything is fully cooked and the flavors have blended. Season to taste, and serve. Soup improves upon standing (and isn't so bad after freezing, either).