Hearty Black Bean Barley Soup

How’s about that for alliteration, friends?

Deep in the winter, I was starting to feel the effects of the darkness and cold and also a lack of protein.  As usual, when looking for inspiration, I always start at SmittenKitchen.  What I wanted was something that would warm my bones and be chock full of protein as well.  I also had a craving for barley.  I based my recipe on SK’s pumpkin black bean soup and ended up with something thick, filling, and delicious.  This recipe is a keeper.


  • ½ cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 ½ cup cold water
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomato puree (the small can, about ¼ cup)
  • ¼ cup butter (half a stick)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 1 ½ cups diced carrots
  • 2 heaping cups small cremini mushrooms, halved
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups cold water

How to do it:

First, put the pearl barley with 1 ½ cups of water into a small pot with some olive oil and salt, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium and cook at a low boil until it is al dente (about 35 minutes).

In the meantime, puree together the black beans and tomato paste, and set aside (I used an immersion blender).

In a large soup pot, melt the butter, add spices (cumin, celery seed, cinnamon, bay leaf) and let cook for 30 seconds.  Then, stir in the diced carrots and mushrooms.  Sautee for about 5 minutes so that everything is nicely coated in the buttery spice, and the mushrooms are a bit seared.  Add the red wine and let it reduce for a few minutes on high heat.

Lower the heat again, and add the rest of the ingredients (broth, water, pumpkin puree, bean puree, peas, cooked barley), and stir to mix.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat again and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom does not burn.

Add salt to taste. (I used about 1 tsp sea salt)

You can eat this alone, or served with rustic bread, or even croutons.  Personally I prefer this sans accoutrements.

5 large meal-sized servings.


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