Curried Vegetable Barley soup

Barley, one of the grains not very well known in Indian kitchens, has been my recent acquaintances. That is, after I tasted ‘pearl barley’. It tasted very much like rice, only a bit chewier. I started using it when I make paruppu adai, and then sometimes I add a handful when I soak the rice and urad dal for idli/dosa batter. After learning about the health benefits of barley, it has now become a staple in my kitchen. I try to find ways and means to eat is as a whole meal, and the best way I could do it, was in this soup.

Before I go on, here are some of the good reasons why you should also try barley: “It is a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, and folic acid. Like oatmeal, barley seeds contain both soluble and insoluble types of fiber that may help to lower cholesterol. This is because the fiber in barley seeds delays stomach emptying and slows down the absorption of carbohydrates from foods, making it suitable for people with diabetes. It is also believed to reduce  low-density lipoprotein (LDL – the bad cholesterol), or triglyceride levels. Above all, if you are watching your weight, barley is your friend. It acts as an appetite suppressant making you feel like you have eaten more than you really have, and thus helps weight loss.”

:D, why?? The last statement is so ironic, that barley is considered weight loss food, whereas it is the same barley that is used to make beer..funny, right?

Enough laughs…and on to slow cooking..I made this soup in the slow cooker, by just chopping and throwing in a whole lot of vegetables along with the barley. Not very many Indian cooks own/use a slow cooker. I guess it is because we all are very used to cooking in a flash in the pressure cooker, that slow cooking seems unnecessary. I used to think so too, until I got to using it. It was a gift from one of my dearest friends, and I should say this is the most challenging gift I have ever recieved. I try to use it every once in a while, and the best thing about it is, while making dinner the previous day, I chop, grind and put everything in the crockpot. The next day before I go to work, all I have to do, is pull it out of the refrigerator, place it in the slow cooker and switch it on. And, when I get back from work, I get hit by this wonderful aroma, that feels like moms cooking. I mostly make dals or bean dishes in it, and sometimes soup.

Without futher ranting, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup of pearled barley

1 large onion diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

3 carrots sliced (I didnt even peel them)

3 ribs celery, sliced thin

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1/2 cup frozen cut green beans

1 16 ounce can Mexican stylestewed tomatoes

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp sambar powder

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tsp dried Italian seasoning

3-4 cups water/vegetable broth

salt to taste

Method:

Add all of the ingredients into the slow cooker, set it on low and cook for 4 to 5 hours or until the barley is cooked through and tender.

Verdict: It tasted very comforting, and wholesome with all the vegetables. As you can see, I made way too much of it, and ended up eating it for a good 4 meals, so far..(still got more to go). I should have added less barley, maybe only a 1/2 cup or so. As the soup cooled, the barley absorbed all the water and turned it more like a risotto , than soup. Still delicious though..No matter what, I enjoyed the meal, and I am doubly happy coss I ate healthy food… 🙂

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