For all my gardeners out there, you KNOW you never know how to use all your zucchini! Your neighbors might like it better if you foist it on them this way. 🙂 Obviously, young squash are best in this. Not big monsters. I’ll think up a few more zucchini recipes here and post them. And if any of you guys have other veggies you grow TOO well and can’t use quickly enough, let me know and I’ll tell you if I have any good recipes I use them in.
SO here’s the history of this soup:
Two of the ladies at my church gave me a huge pasta serving bowl and matching small bowls when I got married. Accompanying this and a great stock pot were jars of pasta sauce and packages of angel hair pasta. What a great gift idea! I still use the pot and bowls just about every other day. Since we don’t eat a lot of red pasta sauce in our house, I needed a way to use the pasta sauce and this recipe was the result of my dabbling around with it. It’s a staple in our house and is delicious with garlic bread.
I never make this soup exactly the same way twice, so all of the measurements are totally approximate. Just have fun with this one and mess with the recipe to make it your own! That is what I love about cooking: It can be a completely inexact science and still be fun and end with delicious results. (This is why I’m also a pretty awful baker — it IS an exact science.)
Zucchini, Barley, and Parmesan Soup
about 8 cups of chicken or veggie stock and water, to your taste
1 or 2 jars of spaghetti sauce, i use roasted garlic prego since it’s cheap, or whatever else is on sale
3 or 4 zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced
3 or 4 yellow crookneck cut lengthwise and sliced
a medium/large yellow onion, diced
at least 4 cloves of garlic, minced (if you have a trader joe’s near you, i use their frozen garlic cubes with good results)
a mix of italian herbs (i use dried rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley, usually. fresh if i have it)
1/2 cup to 1 cup of barley, uncooked
lots and lots of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
saute the onion in olive oil ’til soft, and then add the garlic. add squash and let it cook down a little bit with the pot covered. add jars of pasta sauce and then slosh some stock inside the jars and dump those in the pot to get all the sauce remains out. add the remaining stock. microplane parmesan cheese into the broth to thicken (i usually do several good huge hand-fulls) and stir it in to dissolve it. season with salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. add barley and allow to simmer until barley is cooked through. usually about an hour. if the soup needs something to liven up the taste and you know you’ve already used enough salt, try adding some red wine vinegar or lemon juice, which can sometimes open up the other flavors if they’re getting muddled and lost in there.
You can add more parmesan on top when you serve it, and garlic bread dipped in the soup makes my toes curl with delightful tasty goodness.
How’s that for a technical recipe?
I hope you enjoy it! Eamonn sure did tonight. I never feed him this soup with his shirt on. His belly ends up covered in red broth and while he shovels in the “pastas” (anything in tomatoey anything is pastas) he yells “MMM!” in between bites.