Barley is another staple I like to keep in my pantry. According to Wikipedia barley is a versatile cereal grain. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base for malt for beer and certain distilled beverages and as a component of various health foods. It is also used in soups and stews and can even be used in bread! There are two kinds of barley, two row and six row. Two row barley has a lower protein content. I love adding barley to soups and stews. Pearl barley refers to covered barley that has been processed to remove the tough inedible outer hull and then pearled or polished. Barley may be pearled to varying degrees and labeled as regular, fine or pearl. Pearl barley is available in several forms; however, kernels or berries are the most common. Pearl barley may also be purchased flaked, cut or ground. It has a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries. Barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.
Storing barley is very easy. Pearled barley can be kept at room temperature for a longer time since most of the oils which could go rancid have already been removed. It should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, in warmer months it should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. If refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container, raw/uncooked badly may be stored for about 6 months.
I adapted this recipe from one I found on the TasteOfHome.com website. It makes a nice big pot of soup and freezes well. Perfect for those cold winter nights. Make a salad to go with it and you’ll have a complete meal!
Cobb Hill Barley Soup
1 pound chicken or turkey Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup medium pearl barley
1 large carrot, sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
6 cups chopped fresh kale
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, barley, carrot, celery, sage and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in kale; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and kale is wilted.
Makes about 3 quarts of soup.