This soup is awesome! It was freezing cold here today and I wanted something yummy to warm me up that was healthy and satisfying. Minestrone is one of my favorite soups and it is so incredibly good for you if you make a few small changes. Instead of adding pasta at the end (which always overcooks eventually) I added pearl barley. There is a lot more nutrition in barley or lentils than pasta or white rice, so I’ve been substituting it a lot these days and its just as delicious! You should try the barley swap out and see if your family notices! Mine didn’t.
Vegetable Minestrone Soup with Barley and Pretzel Sticks
And, I also wanted to mention that this recipe isn’t set in stone. Don’t feel obligated to go out and buy all the traditional vegetables to make this. Use what you have in the fridge! The spices flavor everything in the pot the same way, so everything (generally) still tastes as it should.
Now, let me take a minute to discuss these pretzel sticks. YUM. These are so easy, a 5 year old could make them. And, my recipe takes 5 ingredients. Thats it! FIVE! They are a little crispy on the outside, but still soft and chewy on the inside! Oh baby….come to momma. They aren’t like the huge ball-park pretzels you’d buy and aren’t quite as substantial (because I make mine small), but they certainly work when you’re short on time and following a budget! Please make these…..for your tastebuds sake!
Vegetable Minestrone Soup with Barley
Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups of any combination of the following:
or any other vegetables you have lying around
1 1/4 cups beans (I used navy beans, but any plain bean will do! Kidney, white, garbanzo, etc)
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (the smaller can size)
4 cups beef broth (or water and beef boullion cubes)
1 heaping tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 bay leaf
parmesan cheese (optional)
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Dice 2 cups of desired vegetables. Add to pot and continue sautéing for 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften slightly. Add in remaining ingredients excluding the parmesan cheese. Bring soup to boil and then reduce heat to slow simmer. Cook 45 minutes or until barley is soft and doubled in size. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and pretzel sticks (recipe following).
Yield: 6 (but you could easily do more!)
6 frozen rolls (I used Rhoades)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
Thaw rolls at room temperature until completely defrosted and soft, but not proofed (you want the dough to have NOT risen) –about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using pastry brush, grease a baking sheet with half of the melted butter and set aside. In small bowl, dissolve baking soda in water (you’ll want the hottest water out of your kitchen faucet so the baking soda can dissolve). Take one ball of dough (would have been one roll) and roll it out to be about 6 inches long. Dip dough in hot water mixture and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Brush the tops of the pretzel sticks with melted butter and then with more baking soda water. Sprinkle salt over formed dough. Bake for 15 minutes or until dark brown in color. Serve warm. Yum.