Slow Cooker Bean & Barley Soup

I got an email two days ago from a friend in Philly.  Spring has already arrived there, the crocuses are up and the birds are back.  I read this email while sitting in my car staring out across a yard still in the throes of deep freeze.  Snow blankets most of our brown grass, 2 foot drifts surround the house and daily I must traverse our icy path, praying to God I don’t slip and break something (like my pride).  I love Maine.  It is indescribably beautiful, but come March, when the snow has turned dirty and people are longing for the sun, it’s hard not to feel impatient for spring.  And as much as I’d love to store my slow cooker away until fall, it’s still in high rotation.  Today’s recipe comes from Food Network Kitchens Favorite Recipes.  My version eliminates the salt and Parmesan cheese, slashing the sodium down to almost nil while retaining all the heft and hearty flavor.  The dried porcini mushrooms in particular add tremendous depth, smoky taste and meaty bite – at only 7.5 mg sodium!!  So whether you’re enjoying warm sunshine or like me, gray chill, this soup is a nourishing, lovely treat your body will thank you for.

Yields 6 servings.

SODIUM CONTENT:  89 mg per serving


1 c. dried multibean mix (NO flavors added), picked over and rinsed well
6 c. water
1- 14-oz. can no salt added diced or whole tomatoes, with juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1/2 c. pearl barley
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 bay leaf
2 t. dried Italian seasoning
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 c. fresh baby spinach leaves (about 3 oz.)
1 T. balsamic vinegar


Place beans, water, tomatoes (with juice), garlic, carrot, celery, onion, barley, mushrooms and seasonings into the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Place the lid on top and set to low. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Just before serving, add the spinach and vinegar. Stir to combine, allowing the leaves to wilt. Remove the bay leaf and serve immediately, garnished with a little shredded Swiss cheese if desired.

Print Friendly and PDF

This entry was posted in Slow Cooker, Soup and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Slow Cooker Bean & Barley Soup

  1. Okay, love the soup and all, but the thing that really struck me about this post was the idea of you sitting in your car, reading your friend’s e-mail and staring out across the frozen yard. Maybe I’ve been watching too much “Criminal Minds”, but that totally seems like the opening scene to a serial killer drama for sure, especially if you were sitting outside of someone’s else’s house.

  2. Christy says:

    HAH!! Don’t know if I’m flattered or horrified!! No killer in me that’s for sure, but there’s a reason Stephen King writes about men driven mad by the snow! LOL

  3. OMG–that soup looks SO GOOD Christy! Nice photos too–it’s very hard to photograph soup and make it look as palatable as you have here! Cindy

  4. Soup would be so good today – it’s still all gloomy and cold outside – blah!
    (I’m sorry if I’ve missed a day or two of voting – the 24 hours thing is a killer – I seem to leave comments 23.75 hours apart… I’m trying, though)! 🙂

  5. Christy says:

    Cindy – THANK YOU!! Coming from such an amazing photographer (and believe me folks, if you haven’t checked out Cindy’s work, you should), that is an incredible compliment. I’m not worthy! LOL

    Inky – do not worry. Thank you so much for voting whenever you do. The 24 hr thing is a real pain – I find myself forgetting until super late, too. SO whenever you get to it – THANKS!

  6. yum. another fab-o recipe from my favorite lo-so girl! cheese on anything makes it better. 🙂

  7. Christy says:

    Nat, don’t get me started on cheese. Really! It’s too high in sodium and waaaaaaaaaaayyyy!!!!! too tempting!!! LOL

    Love ya babe!! XO

  8. Pingback: Beans, Beans, the musical fruit! » The Daily Dish

  9. Amy Kraemer says:

    Going to make this tomorrow looks yummy. FYI Heidi Ann Swiss cheese is really good. Only 45 grams per ounce!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *