On a cold day, even a sunny one, a nice hearty soup is always welcome at my house. Today I looked in the pantry and the freezer to see what I had on hand. I found cans of cannellini and garbanzo beans, a quart of vegetable broth and bag of pearl barley in the pantry and couple of sausages that I had smoked a few months ago, cut into slices and stashed in the freezer.
I like to keep celery, carrots, onions and garlic in the house all the time because they form the beginning of most of the meals I make. It is also an easy way to sneak some vegetables in without my daughters realizing they are there.
I started my soup by treating my barley to a quick soak. As the barley soaked, I softened the celery, carrots, onion and garlic in the soup pot with a little olive oil. I added the sausages and rinsed the beans before adding them as well. Then the broth went into the pot and I heated it to boil. Once it was boiling, I stirred in the barley, reduced the heat and let the soup simmer for a couple of hours to thicken and let the flavors meld together.
The outcome was a nice blend of textures and flavors. The cannellini beans gave a creaminess that thickened the broth. This matched well with the satisfying pop that came from biting into the individual pearls of barley. The pop is similar to the sensation one gets when eating a sushi roll that has fish roe on it. The smoked sausages acted almost like a garnish in providing a good amount of flavor to round out the sweet earthiness of the vegetables and legumes. Ultimately, it was a successful pantry/freezer raid that resulted in a big enough pot of soup that we will enjoy the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.