The key to this soup might be having cooked barley and lentil on hand. I have noticed that when I cook the lentils all in one go, it turns out to have a kind of mushy, creamier texture. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, for this brothy Italian classic, I prefer the lentils having more of an al dente texture and shape. For that, I cook a batch of lentils separately with whatever go-with-everything seasonings I have—usually a few cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, bay leaf, and water—and use it as I need for salads, bowls, and bolognese, and other recipes throughout the week. The chewy barley is a nice alternative to the tiny pasta that usually is found in Italian wedding soups. Barley isn't even my favorite grain, but for this one particular recipe, it's definitely the ideal choice. Try it and you'll see what I mean!
Vegan Italian Wedding Soup
- 1 cup cooked barley
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 medium tomato, chopped (or handful grape tomatoes)
- 1/2 bunch fresh spinach, chopped
- 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 serving vegan Italian sausage (Field Roast or Upton's)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. I used leftover cooked barley and leftover lentils, which sped up the process considerably. To cook barley, bring barley + water (1 : 2–3 ratio) to boil over high heat and then simmer for about 30 minutes. I like to have cooked grains and legumes on hand for easy soups, salads, and bowls throughout the week!
2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil smells fragrant, add garlic and carrots and stir for a few minutes.
3. Add tomato and let it sizzle for a minute or so. When it starts to stick, add the 1 cup of water and bay leaf.
4. Add spinach and cover the lid. Bring to boil over high heat, for 2–3 minutes.
5. Add barley, lentils, and vegetable broth. Let it boil on high for a minute, and lower the heat to simmer for the next 15 minutes.
6. Chop or crumble your Italian sausage. I have tried Field Roast Italian sausage and Upton’s, which are both seitan-based, and both were incredibly good. Add them to the soup and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
Serving ideas: This rich soup doesn’t need a lot of extra herbs and flavors, but you can add nutritional yeast, dried basil, oregano, cracked black pepper, or thyme as you see fit. Bon appétit!
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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling