An ancient grain that serves many purposes, barley is a multipurpose ingredient that serves a multitude of roles while offering many health and flavor benefits. With eight essential amino acids contained within barley, the whole grain has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, making it the perfect addition to your next bowl of soup.
On its own with a medley of root vegetables, garlic and spices, barley makes a great addition to a vegetarian soup. Thrown into the mix of tender chunks of meat and the same vegetables, it adds texture and heartiness to soup accompanied by its heart healthy fiber and protein. Pearled barley is most often seen in soup recipes, although other varieties are not unheard of. De-hulled and polished, pearl barley can usually be found near other rices and grains, dried beans and peas in the grocery store and are the perfect addition as a pantry staple.
Though beef and barley soup is a common recipe, often sought by diners to warm anyone on a cold day or provide comfort amongst the chaos, it is also often paired with chicken, vegetables and even mushroom, which offer a similar meaty texture as beef. The base of the soup may use stock, broth or even use a tomato base in order to allow the barley to cook, puffing with expansion and absorbing the liquid used.
In addition to being a healthy addition to any weekly menu, barley soup can also be a very convenient addition to a meal because of how well it holds up when cooked slowly in a crock pot. Regardless of what is added to the soup, barley creates a stick-to-your-ribs flavor and texture that can be enjoyed slowly on a winter evening or added to a weekly meal plan as we try to gain more heart healthy grains in our diets.
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