Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

This hearty barley and vegetable soup is both healthy and filling. Substitute seasonal veggies as desired, adding, rather than subtracting ingredients. The heart and soul of vegetable soup is both the quantity and quality of vegetables used, so use all organic ingredients whenever possible, please. Soup cooked in stages such as this offers great flavor, while preserving both nutrients and color of the freshest of vegetables. This great staple can be enjoyed year round, using fresh tomatoes in summertime, canned in the winter.

1 large onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
½ C each of the following vegetables, or substitute as you wish, using at least 3-4 cups of bite size veggies. Fresh corn on the cob, green beans cut into 1-inch pieces, yellow summer squash, zucchini and broccoli.
2 T coconut oil
8 C pure water or vegetable broth; we like Rapunzel bouillon cubes for the freshest flavor
1 C barley, rinsed, and preferably soaked for 2-8 hours before cooking
1 C garbanzo, red, black, or white beans, precooked, or organic in the can
2 C fresh or canned, crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 T fresh basil, chopped
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
¼ C fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
2 bay leaves

In a large soup pot, heat the oil, sauté the onions, add barley, and stir until the barley is lightly toasted with the onions. Add veggie broth or water with bouillon, bring to boil, lower to simmer, add bay leaves, and allow to cook for 45 minutes, or until barley is tender.

When barley is soft, add celery; allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Add carrots, and simmer for a few minutes, next adding beans, tomatoes, and remaining vegetables, starting with the longest cooking, allowing each to simmer for a few moments before adding the fastest cooking vegetable.

Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, add fresh herbs, and lastly sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Adjust seasonings until satisfied with flavor; allow it to sit covered with heat off, while preparing a wonderful leafy salad. Serve with whole grain bread, tortillas, or crackers.