White Bean and Barley Soup #soupswappers

"Some days are like that...Even in Australia."  
(Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst)

We all can count upon having a bad day now and then, it is what happens.  What I try to remember is that there are those whose day is probably worse than mine, so, be strong, push through. The quotation from Judith Viorst's children's book has long been a quotation that I think of when things get tough.  But....my question is, does this also apply to months?  I think it must.  What a month it has been.  

In a span of five days my ninety-one year old mother had a big setback:  five falls, a trip to urgent care, two trips by ambulance to the emergency room, a three day stay in the hospital for observation and as a result, a need to change her living situation which entailed a move to a dementia care facility.  With that decision, the dominoes begin to fall in regard to moving. What to do with furniture, household items, etc.  I must say that I appreciate my niece.  She and her husband came to the rescue.  (I love it when needs match up!)

Meshed in among all of the above we was hosting a family dinner for visiting out of state family, a trip to Seattle to help my daughter as her hubby had to go to....wait for it....Australia.... I got sick so I wasn't really much help.....came home and began the laundry that had been piling up for a long while.  It was either do the laundry or go to the store and buy new necessities!  Watching the washing machine could be therapeutic.  Ha!   

Thankfully, I had made this easy, soothing, flavorful, and delicious Bean and Barley Soup before the dominoes began falling!  It is Saturday!  It is the third Saturday of May!  I am to make a soup with the theme that Paula at The Saucy Southerner selected for the Soup Saturday Swappers: Let's Go Meatless!

What I learned in making this soup was that all vegetable broths are not created equal.  The broth that I found at Trader Joe's exceeded the other brand I had purchased...hands down!  If you haven't tried it...do so!

White Bean and Barley Soup
adapted from Eating Well

1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried basil
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup quick cooking barley
6 oz package baby spinach (about 6 cups)
1/4  cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onion, fennel, garlic, and basil.  Stirring frequently, cook the mixture until it begins to brown, about 8 minutes.

Mash about 1 cup of the beans.  Add the mashed beans, remaining whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot and stir.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer.  Stir the mixture occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach leaves cooking until wilted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cheese and pepper.

Notes:  The soup may be refrigerated for up to three days.  It freezes well for up to six months.


This would be a great soup for a girls' luncheon served with some crusty bread!  I know that I will definitely make this soup again.  In fact I have some friends coming next week....all I need is the fennel!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!


  1. That is a beautiful bowl of comfort right there and it sounds like you needed it. Hugs to you. Having gone through similar situation with my mom, I know how difficult it is.

  2. I'm so sorry you've had so many hardships lately, Kathy. Sending my love and hugs! Given all you've been through, I'm even more glad you were able to participate this month! And this recipe looks so delicious! You're SO RIGHT! All vegetable stocks are NOT made the same! Thank you for a lovely recipe! <3 P~

  3. I'm so sorry about all you have gone through. Your mother is fortunate to have such a caring daughter. I'm so glad you were still able to join us xoxo.

  4. Kathy, Lovely soup but what a lousy and busy few days! I don't think that there is enough comfort food available to make those 5 days better... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  5. While restocking my new pantry, I discovered a hidden bag of barley. I'm not sure how I didn't know it was there...anyway, can't wait to use it in a soup like this one! Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen

  6. I so agree about broths being of such different quality- I will have to look for the TJ version~ This does sound a comfort-meal,and I hope it worked for you a little~

  7. Such a healthy and delicious soup.. Great!

  8. Very sorry to hear about all the troubles life has thrown your way lately...especially with your mother. Hope everything is getting a little better. A bowl of this soup sounds perfect when you need a little comforting.

  9. I love soup recipes like this, Whenever we are ill with colds and flu, I always make chicken broth soup, it cheers us up and restores our health so much quicker.


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