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Homey Red Lentil & Barley Soup

Red Lentil Barley Soup

Fall is finally arriving – having just been in NYC where it was really getting cold, I have started craving fall foods and flavors. This lentil barley soup is comforting and a meal in a bowl. Make enough for leftovers as it reheats beautifully. The prep is not hard and the soup comes together within an hour – although if you make it a little earlier and let it sit for a bit after cooking, the flavors continue to marry.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 10 ounces red lentils (I prefer red as they soften up more than the green do for this soup)
  • 10 ounces barley (I used Trader Joes 10-minute barley but you can use regular barley as the soup does need to cook for a while). You can also sub another chewy grain like farro if you prefer.
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1  cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 4 tablespoons oil or fat (can use butter, vegetable oil, olive oil, or ghee)
  • 8 cups of chicken stock or for vegetarians, a high quality veggie stock (this makes the soup) do not buy cheap stock. I make my own chicken stock which is really the best way to go: I make large quantities of stock then freeze it in quart-size freezer bags)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste)
  • 1/2- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Handful minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  • Add oil to soup pot, warm gently and then add mire poix: carrots, celery and onions. Sprinkle a little salt on the veggies and stir.
  • Gently sweat the veggies on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Do not burn the veggies.
  • Add cumin, salt, pepper, tomato paste to pot, and let the cumin spice warm up and tomato paste coat all the veggies and slightly caramelize.
  • Add lentils and barley and stir in for a minute.
  • Add stock and raise temp to bring soup to a gentle simmer. Let the soup cook on a gentle simmer for at least 45 minutes so that lentils begin to fall apart, and barley is tender.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Sprinkle a little more cilantro on top.
  • Optional toppings: a spoonful of garlic sauce, some dashes of hot sauce, sprinkles of high quality parmesan cheese.
  • Serve with a loaf of crusty bread or a lovely fresh salad or both!


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