A warm, invigorating soup for increasingly crisp fall evenings. The lemon juice is essential to the success of this recipe as it lightens the heaviness of the barley and the chickpeas. The final addition of fried sage leaves pleases both the palate and the eye.
Spinach & Barley Soup with Fried Sage
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 large sage leaves, chopped
1 cup pearl barley
14 oz can organic garbanzo beans
14 oz can organic diced tomatoes
8 cups spinach, washed and chopped
6 1/2 cups homemade vegetable stock
fine-grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
juice from 1-2 lemons, to taste
3-4 whole fresh sage leaves per person
olive oil, for frying
1.) Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. Once very hot, add onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sage and cook for 8 minutes more. Add barley and cook for 1-2 mintues.
2.) Add beans and tomatoes and give everything a good stir. Add spinach, in batches if the volume is too great, and cook until wilted. Add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Check to make sure barley is cooked through (it should still retain some bit), taste for salt and pepper and season to taste.
3.) While soup is simmering, heat a glug of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and fry until crisp. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
4.) To serve, stir in red wine vinegar. Season to taste with lemon juice. Ladle soup into bowls, coat generously with shaved parmesan, adorn with sage leaves, and serve.