This is one of my favourite standby winter soups. I nearly always have all the ingredients knocking about and it is reasonably quick to prepare. It freezes well and defrosts easily too so is great to have some in the freezer for those times when you can't be bothered cooking. You can make the soup as spicy as you like, adjust the amount of chilli and paprika to taste.
Serves 5 people for 2 meals or 10 people altogether.
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Tblsp paprika
pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1.5 litres liquid vegetable stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 to 1 1/2 cups pearl barley, rinsed (you can just use a coffee cup to measure it)
2 lumps of frozen spinach or handful of fresh spinach
Heat oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion until softened. Add the paprika and chilli flakes then sauté for about 1 minute until they're fragrant.
Put all the vegetables, stock, water, tomatoes, kidney beans, and pearl barley into the saucepan and bring everything to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat slightly and then simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the pearl barley is tender. Add the lumps of frozen spinach and cook for another 5 minutes or so until cooked through.
Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side.