Bean, Corn, and Barley Soup
Barley is an ancient grain that is used in Italy’s northern provinces. It creates a thick and robust soup flavored with many vegetables and herbs as well as delicate cannellini beans.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pancetta
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed well
- 5 cups Chicken Stock or purchased stock
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup fresh corn kernels, or frozen kernels, thawed
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly brown. Add onion, garlic, and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Scrape mixture into the slow cooker.
2. Add barley, stock, parsley, rosemary, and bay leaf to the slow cooker, and stir well. Cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or High for 3 to 4 hours, or until vegetables are tender. If cooking on Low, raise the heat to High. Stir beans, corn, and Parmesan into the slow cooker, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cheese melts.
3. Remove and discard bay leaf, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot.
Note: The soup can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Reheat it, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally. More stock or water might have to be added if the soup is chilled; the barley keeps absorbing liquid after cooking.
Variations: Substitute kidney beans for the cannellini beans.