Sunday, April 03, 2011

Recipe for Barley Minestrone with Canadian Bacon, Savoy Cabbage, and Rosemary

If you wake up with snow on the ground in April, this Barley Minestrone can help.
I realize there are people who actually like snow, but let me make it 100% clear that I will never be one of them.  Every year when the weather starts to feel like spring I brace myself, because this is Utah and I know there will still be a few more snowstorms before hot weather comes.  Today when I woke up and saw about 4 inches of snow on the roof of my new shed, I was not happy.  But then I remembered this soup recipe.

If you've been reading the blog for long, you've probably heard me rave about how much I like the recipes from Fine Cooking, and the idea of minestrone with barley seemed like pure genius to me.  I used Canadian Bacon instead of pancetta and reduced the oil a little to make the recipe more South Beach Diet friendly, and other than that I almost followed the recipe.  Even a re-discovered soup recipe can't really make up for snow in April, but this soup was tasty and comforting as I watched more snow coming down.

Finely dice enough Canadian Bacon to make about 1/2 cup.  (Or if you don't care about the saturated fat, you can use a slightly smaller amount of pancetta or regular bacon.)

Heat olive oil in a heavy soup pot and saute the Canadian Bacon just until it starts to crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Savoy cabbage is really good in this soup, but if you can't find it you can use regular green cabbage.

While the Canadian Bacon cooks, dice the Savoy Cabbage, onion, and celery, and slice the carrots.

Add a little more oil if needed and saute the vegetables with some minced garlic until the vegetables are starting to get soft, about 5-6 minutes.

While the vegetables cook, rinse the barley in a fine strainer, cut a small wedge of Parmesan rind, and cut a short sprig of rosemary.  (The Parmesan rind and rosemary are probably optional, but they add a lot of flavor to the soup.)

When vegetables are starting to soften, add chicken stock, water, diced tomatoes and juice,  barley, Parmesan rind, rosemary, and a tiny bit of salt.  Let the soup cook at a low simmer until the barley is soft, about 30-40 minutes.

When the barley is soft, remove the Parmesan rind and rosemary and discard.  Add 1 can rinsed red kidney beans, season soup with salt and pepper, and simmer 5-10 minutes more.  Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese for people to add to their soup.

Barley Minestrone with Canadian Bacon, Savoy Cabbage, and Rosemary
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe adapted very slightly from Barley Minestrone at Fine Cooking.)

1 T olive oil (plus a little more if needed to saute vegetables)
1/2 cup very finely diced Canadian Bacon (or use a smaller amount of diced pancetta or bacon)
2 cups coarsely diced cabbage (savoy cabbage is best, but regular green cabbage will work)
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup sliced carrots (use small carrots, or cut slices in half)
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 tsp. minced garlic
8 C chicken stock, plus a little more if needed (I used homemade chicken stock, but you can use canned chicken broth)
1 cup water
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed (thanks to Karina for the suggestion to use quinoa for gluten-free version)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (probably optional, but adds a lot of flavor)
small piece of Parmesan rind (probably optional, but adds a lot of flavor)
1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Finely chop enough Canadian Bacon to make 1/2 cup (or use a slightly smaller amount of pancetta or regular bacon if you don't care about the saturated fat.)  Heat 1 T olive oil in heavy soup pot, add Canadian Bacon and saute over medium heat until it just starts to crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

While Canadian Bacon cooks, chop the cabbage, onions, celery, and slice the carrots.  (If you're not a fast chopper, you might want to do that before you start to cook the bacon.)  When Canadian Bacon is starting to crisp, add the vegetables and minced garlic to the soup pot and saute for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are starting to soften.  You may need to add a little more olive oil, depending on your pan.

While vegetables are cooking, rinse the barley, cut a chunk of Parmesan rind, and cut a small sprig of rosemary.  When vegetables are partially soft, add chicken stock, water, diced tomatoes with juice, barley, rosemary sprig, Parmesan rind, and about 1/2 tsp. of salt.  Let the soup cook at a low simmer until the barley is soft, about 30-40 minutes.  (I like the barley to be fairly soft, but taste to see when it seems done enough to you.)

While soup simmers, put 1 can red kidney beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water until no more foam appears.  When the barley is done, remove the Parmesan rind and rosemary and discard.   (If the soup seems too thick, you can add a little more chicken stock at this point.) Add kidney beans, season soup to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and simmer 5-10 minutes more.  Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese for each person to add to their soup.  This soup freezes well if you can manage to have any left.

Minestrone is a traditional Italian soup made from whatever vegetables were left in the fridge.  Other things you could add or substitute in this recipe include green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, kale, or swiss chard.  You can also use small pasta instead of the barley.

South Beach Suggestions: 
Using low-fat Canadian Bacon instead of pancetta and low-glycemic barley instead of white-flour pasta makes this soup great for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet 

More Soup with Barley You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Turkey Barley Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Chicken Barley Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Mushroom Barley Soup from Two Peas and Their Pod
Turkey Barley Soup from Dianasaur Dishes
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup from Andrea Meyers
Spicy Barley Soup from Soup Chick
Porcini Barley Soup from Chez Us
Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Soup from Chick in the Kitchen
Barley Soup with a Tasty Surprise from Rubber Slippers in Italy
Spinach and Barley Soup from The Kitchen Illiterate
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. What a wonderful hearty soup, Kalyn. You have included such a nice mixture of textures and flavors.

  2. I'm afraid I'm not a fan of the snow either. Love the ingredients in this soup. It's a different twist on the typical minestrone.


  3. I'm with you -- no lover of snow, but a great lover of soup. I'd probably use regular bacon, or maybe smoked paprika or barbecue sauce instead.

  4. I've got to love this soup even if its just for the Canadian bacon:D

  5. That is a delicious looking soup and it appears to be very flavorful and healthy.

  6. We definitely experienced some hail and flurries here on Friday and, yeah. I was not please. It's so disheartening!

    This soup is definitely a great thing to warm you up! I love the bite and chew of the barley!

  7. Oh I love the idea of barley in minestrone! I wish I'd had this at my parents' in NH last week.

  8. And soup is the perfect antidote to all the snow that fell this weekend. I love the combination here!

  9. So glad people are liking this. I wasn't sure how Canadian bacon would work, but it really did give great flavor to the soup. Of course adding the Parmesan rind just made it even better!

  10. Kalyn, I feel exactly the same about the snow!! It snowed here on April Fools Day... ha, ha.

    A lot of what I find here in Boston packaged as "Canadian Bacon" (which we native Canadians call simply "back bacon") is in fact some other cut of pork. I've seen pork chops and deli slicer ham passed off as the real deal. The nuance can be pretty small if it's done well so I don't mind too much, and back bacon can often be tough and chewy anyway so I don't use it often. But it just ain't the same sometimes!

    This soup sounds exactly like what the doctor ordered to pick me up from this irritating still-winter funk. But I've tried on no less than 3 occasions recently to make your cabbage-based meals only to find no cabbage at my market. :(

  11. See I am not of the norm...I wish it was snowing here as I love snow. Along with good soup and a good book! But alas it is 72 and sunny here in the east. Thanks for this recipe sounds very yummy!

  12. Great soup recipe for the snowy days we have been having.

  13. This looks perfectly warm and comforting. While we don't have snow here all the rain makes me want something warm and cozy.

  14. When I complain about rain, I am always aware that at the same time there are people getting snow, so I tone down my complaints. I hope that was it for this year, Kalyn. On the other hand, I am glad to see I am not the only one still needing hot and comforting soup to survive until some sort of spring arrives. I love the color of your minestrone and I am sure I'd love the flavor, with all those veggies.

  15. The soup looks fabulous and the pictures are great. Soup-yes, snow-no!

  16. Well I knew that some of you would like snow, lol! But it seems that most people share my feelings about it. Even after a pretty warm day today it hasn't all melted on my lawn. Thanks everyone for the nice thoughts about the soup.

  17. We don't have any snow now but yesterday it was 84 F. and today it was 52 F. so I was thrilled to have this soup recipe to make for dinner!

    My parents are visiting and they also love soup so we can't wait to taste it tomorrow night!

  18. Oh I am so jealous of the 84F temperature! Hope you like the soup.

  19. Completely agree with your comment about snow and cold weather...What I liked most about your recipe is the use of savoy cabbage and rosemary. The fragrance in the kitchen has to be great and appetite enticing. The rest of the ingredients are great. Will try it as a hearty family meal. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Kalyn, this soup looks so hearty and healthy and delicious! Absolutely love this recipe. Thanks for sharing. You have a beautiful blog and I'm looking forward to exploring your recipes! :)

  21. Coffee guy, the rosemary really made a difference.

    Georgia, thanks. Glad you're enjoying the blog.

  22. I made this last night and its a keeper for me. It was fabulous. I always find such wonderful recipes here, thank you so much.

  23. Glor, thanks so much for that nice feedback. Happy that you enjoyed it!

  24. Minestrone is a such a classic favorite! Yours look so rich and hearty. I imagine gluten-free peeps could sub the barley with quinoa, perhaps?

  25. Karina, great idea; I'm going to add that to the recipe.

  26. I also thought about brown rice as a gluten-free option!

  27. This looks delightfully filling and healthy and packed full of flavour! Perfect since we've just entered soup season here in Australia!

  28. Thanks Ellie, and bear with me when I soon start raving about warm weather!

  29. Hi Kalyn.I made this soup,and thought it was very good,and hearty,however next time I'll use the pancetta instead of the c.bacon,even if I only use a little bit of the pancetta it lends such a nice flavor. You aren't alone about the snow. (go away winter,let's move on to another season already!) rj;o)

  30. There is no doubt in my mind that pancetta would taste great in this!

  31. Made this for dinner tonight, so easy and so good. Another winner Kalyn!

  32. This soup is awesome! I doubled the recipe last week; brought two batches to ailing friends, my husband and I had it for dinner and still had leftovers to freeze.
    I added some chopped kale and garbanzo beans to make it a little heartier since I used so much broth.
    And even tho we've hit summer way too early here in Fla., it still hit the spot.

  33. Heidi, so glad you liked it. I love your idea of adding kale!


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