lentil soup, barley, escarole, soup, barley soupWe are ending the last week of winter (thank God!), and although we’ve had some nice spring teaser days, a warm bowl of hearty soup still fits the bill this time of year. As I am fully ready to start seeing wonderful spring produce at the markets, I can’t help but to make my last rounds of winter greens. I bought a head of escarole, had lentils and barley in my pantry, and figured a little soup would do me good. Escarole is great because it holds up nicely when added to soups, as it retains its body and adds wonderful texture and contrast of flavor. It’s great when paired with sausage, although if you wish to make a vegetarian version just leave it out and it will still be delicious and hearty.

  • 2 sweet Italian sausage links , removed from casing
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, choppedescarole
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups escarole leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup green lentils
  • 1/3 cup pearled barley
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt, pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized dutch oven or stock pot. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one minute longer.

Add the tomato paste and stir until combined with the vegetables. Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then add the lentils, barley, and cooked sausage. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, partially covered, until the lentils and barley are tender. Add the chopped escarole and stir in until wilted, cook 2 minutes longer, remove the bay leaf and serve.

lentil soup, barley, escarole, soup, barley soup