You can put whatever vegetables you like into this – onion, carrot and celery are a must though. I add half a teaspoon of chilli flakes to give it a little heat.
When I need to finely chop a whole lot of stuff, I always use my Japanese Mandolin. I put in the coarse shredding blade, and then slice 2-3mm thick. I have a Benriner – google it and you can purchase online – The Essential Ingredient in Prahran has them, but if you are anything like me, you’ll come away with a basket full of new gadgets and specialty foods when you shop there.
This soup freezes well so I always make more than I need and put meal-sized containers in the freezer.
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 button mushrooms, sliced or diced
Any other vegetables you’d like to add – I use 1-2 little yellow squash for colour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cups of vegetable stock (you can use water, or a mix of stock and water – I always use stock because it gives a richer, fuller flavour)
1 cup pearl barley
1 can beans – cannelini or borlotti for example
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato puree
2 teaspoons mixed italian herbs (thyme, oregano, basil, etc)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Sautee the vegetables in the olive oil in a large pot for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 60-80 minutes until the barley is fluffy. Serve.