Barley & Squash Minestrone

Here it comes world…

I think I’m a hypochondriac.

Kidney Beans and Barley
Right now I’m sitting on the couch icing my back after an unfortunate run in with a Wii Remote at work today. I’m doing my best not to research “broken ribs” or “ruptured kidney” on WebMD while writing this post, even though I probably will just end up with a bruise.

It’s not a new thing. Anytime I see or hear of someone getting sick, I immediately start the “what if’s” Greg starts coughing and I can feel my neck muscles contract. I get a text from a client’s parent alerting me to a kid with a fever and I spend the rest of the day looking in the mirror and asking Greg: “do I feel warm to you?”

Green Beans, Carrots and Zucchini

Early one morning in college I watched my roommate Jacki book it to the bathroom from my door down the hall. I was convinced by her speed and timing she’d gotten a stomach bug.
I called Greg: “Jacki’s sick. Do you remember if she and I had the same thing for dinner?”
“I don’t think so.”
“We must have. I don’t feel good at all.” (Followed by my spending the rest of the day checking my temperature and carrying on about being terribly sick. Later that afternoon Jacki strolled out of her bedroom and bumped into Greg.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Fine. What’s wrong with Amy?”
“She’s got the same bug as you.”
“What? I don’t have a bug.”
BOOM. Cured. All my ailments disappeared. (Followed by Greg rolling his eyes and calling me several versions of a drama queen.)

Sweet Dumpling Squash

I’ve been lice checked, strep checked, whooping-cough checked–all in the name of getting myself so worked up about getting sick.

Barley and Vegetable Soup

The last few weeks when a few of my clients and colleagues came down with a battery of sniffles, sneezes, bumps and otherwise unfriendly diseases, I had to do my best not to have a complete meltdown.
Out came the Purell. Out come the immunity booster herbal tea. And the thermometer checking for any possible sign of a fever. We were so rundown from one helluva of a September I figured we deserved a major case of H-3CPO-N-1 or whatever they are calling the flu this year. I even made this giant pot of hearty barley and fall vegetable soup in preparation for an extended stint on the couch.

Barley & Squash Minestrone

I’m convinced that eating fresh, local ingredients can only add to our line of defenses (or at least help ease my worry-wort brain!) The soup we sipped all week had big chunks of sweet dumpling squash, carrots, whole grain barley and kale. I substituted local ingredients from the original recipe, including replacing the orzo with barley and canned beans with dried, local ones from our garden. No time or energy wasted breaking down processed, chemical laden ingredients in this body.

When the going gets tough (or at least a little more germ-filled) the tough go local…

Barley-Squash Minestrone Soup

Barley & Squash Minestrone 

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Cooking through the Seasons


1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked for 4-6 hours
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 cup onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked barley
2 1/2 cups cubed and peeled squash (use any firm squash like butternut, kabocha, sweet dumpling, etc.)
2 1/2 cups cubed baking potatoes
1 cup green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
2 cups zucchini, chopped into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup carrot, cut into 1″ pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large bunch of kale, roughly chopped
grated mozzarella or parmesan cheese for topping

1. Soak beans and prepare all of your vegetables first.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large stock pot. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent.
3. Add broth, barley and beans to the pot along with squash and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until kidney beans are tender.
4. Add green beans, zucchini, carrots and spices. Cook for another 10 minutes uncovered or until vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork.
5. Add kale and simmer for 2-3 minutes more until kale is just tender. Do not overcook or kale will become mushy and gray-green. Serve immediately topped with shredded cheese.

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