Herb-Pesto Barley Soup

One of the first crops ever cultivated, barley contains soluble fiber as well as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and thiamin. Feel free to swap out the cannellini beans with great northern or navy beans.
Body+Soul, January/February 2009
  • Prep Time 25 minutes
  • Total Time 1 hour
  • Yield Serves 4
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  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 can (15 1/2 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves (from a large bunch)
  • 1 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plain 2 percent Greek yogurt


  1. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or large pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add onions and garlic and cook until caramelized and tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes, scraping up the browned bits (add a little water to the bottom of the pot if it begins to overbrown). Season with salt and pepper.

  2. Add barley and 6 cups water and bring to a boil.
    Reduce heat; simmer partially covered over medium
    until barley is tender, about 40 minutes. Stir in beans
    and chickpeas and cook until heated through, about
    1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in the 2 cups whole
    parsley leaves. Add more water to thin soup as necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Meanwhile, in blender, combine dill, mint, chopped
    parsley, vinegar, remaining 1/4 cup oil, and 2 tablespoons water. Puree to desired consistency. Serve soup topped with herb pesto and a dollop of yogurt.

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