If I had to pick my favourite soup, then it would be this Italian soup recipe which combines lentils, barley, buttery yellow potatoes as well as a host of other nourishing vegetables. This soup is like a big warm hug on a chilly winter day.
You'll love adding this soup to your meal rotation during those cold winter months, because not only is this a hearty soup but it is easy to bring together for a quick meal. For an added level of comfort pair my grilled cheese recipe with this soup.
I like serving this meal in bowl with a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a sprinkling of parsley for a fresh burst of flavour.
Gather your Ingredients
- extra-virgin olive oil
- yellow potatoes such as Yukon Gold
- kosher salt
- unsalted chicken broth
- brown lentils
- pearled barley
- bay leaf
- cayenne pepper
- parmigiano-reggiano cheese
See the recipe below for specific quantities and details.
- cutting board
- sharp chef's knife
- vegetable peeler
- measuring cups and spoons
- heavy bottomed pot
- wooden spoon
Sauté. In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onions, carrots, celery, whole garlic and kosher salt. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent. This should take about 5-8 minutes.
Simmer. Add in the chicken broth, lentils, barley, bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir. Discard the bay leaf and retrieve the garlic cloves (they usually float to the top). Do not throw away the garlic but rather smush the cloves against the inside of the pot and give the whole pot a good stir.
Add spinach. Wilt the spinach, this will take 30 seconds.
Serve. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley and cheese.
Secrets for Success
- yellow potatoes are the best variety to use for this recipe because they are not as starchy as Idaho/Russet potatoes and will remain intact during the cooking process.
- sort through the lentils and barley to remove any small fragments of stones or particles there may be. I like to put my lentils and barley on a tea towel and give them a good inspection to ensure that there are no nasty surprises when serving.
Substitutions & Variations
- Green lentils/lentilles du Puy may be substituted for the brown lentils however they will require an additional 10-15 minutes to cook.
- Red potatoes may be used instead of yellow potatoes.
- Pot barley may be used instead of pearled barley however it will take roughly 15 minutes longer to cook.
- Pecorino Romano may be substituted for the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- If spicy food is not your thing, then omit the cayenne pepper.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes you can use water to make this recipe, but bear in mind it may be less flavourful.
Although lentils are a legume/pulse, they do not require soaking like other legumes because they cook within 1 hour. Other legumes, such as chickpeas/garbanzo beans would require soaking overnight because they take much longer to cook.
Yes by all means use kale! Just be aware that it will take a little longer to wilt versus using spinach.
No I don't recommend using red lentils in this recipe because they would break down i.e. not hold their shape, as they cook and the soup would have a much different consistency.
Yes, store bought broth is fine, in fact this is what I used for this recipe. My only recommendation would be to purchase a no salt version so that you can better control the salt content.
Leftover soup will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. And remember to refrigerate leftovers promptly.
You can freeze this soup but I don't recommend it. The potatoes will not hold up well and will become mushy once thawed. If you wanted to freeze this recipe, then I would omit the potatoes altogether.Print