Weekly Winner:  Stealthy, Healthy, Comfort in a Bowl

I truly believe that the right bowl of soup can save your soul. There is something wonderfully comforting and nourishing about hunkering down over a big bowl of steaming goodness.  Usually, my favorite, go-to comfort-food soups include cheese or cream, or at the very least pasta — heck, some include all three!  But this soup, while it does contain a bit of cheese, is satisfying, cozy and surprisingly healthy.  Most importantly, however… it is amazingly tasty!

The recipe for White Bean and Barley Soup with Tomatoes and Greens comes from Real Simple Magazine and there is no false advertising there.  Besides all the attributes I’ve listed above, this soup is a breeze to pull together.

White Bean and Barley Soup with Tomatoes and Greens

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Kosher salt and black pepper

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth [full disclosure:  I used chicken broth – sue me!]

1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed

1 cup pearled barley, rinsed

1 small bunch collard greens or kale, stems discarded and leaves cut into strips (4 cups) [I chose kale]

1 15oz can cannellini beans, rinsed

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (about 2 oz) plus more shaved for serving.

Procedure:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the broth and tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil.  Add the barley, reduce heat, and simmer until the barley is tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the collards or kale and the beans and cook until the greens are wilted and the beans are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • Serve the soup drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with shaved Parmesan.

Weekly Winner: Superfood Salvation

Travel wreaks havoc with my best intentions. I always think I will make wise choices while traveling and visiting my family but alas, it never happens. Between running through airports to grab a quick bite and festive reunions with too many tasty temptations (and plenty of wine) around I always fall way off my healthy eating track. So on my first full day back at home, I needed salvation. I craved something that inherently tasted healthy and would reset my system.

IMG_0571.JPGEnter Seared Salmon with Lemony Barley Salad With Kale Pesto.  The seared salmon was just that:  salmon seared with salt and pepper.  Therefore there is no recipe for that.  The Barley Salad however comes from Food & Wine Magazine.  I adore salmon and it is always my go-to thing to prepare when I want something healthy.  The barley salad was a total surprise awhile ago.  I made it for a client, tried it, and adored it.  The two together saved me.  Salvation on a plate!

Lemony Barley Salad with Kale Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup pearled barley (about 8 ounces)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup currants

1 tablespoon minced shallot

6 ounces kale, stems discarded and leaves torn into small pieces (4 cups)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Procedure:

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook the barley in salted boiling water until al dente, 30 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over low heat, stirring, until lightly golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the currants and shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the shallot is golden, about 3 minutes. Scrape into the barley and add the pine nuts.
  4. In a food processor, pulse two-thirds of the kale with the lemon juice until chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil until smooth. Season with salt. Scrape the pesto into the barley. Add the remaining kale leaves, season with salt and toss well. Serve.