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From Virginia Wiedemann:  "Here is one basic very large vegetable soup recipe that is quite good as is, but with a few additions (stuff you have laying around) it turns into a smorgasbord of tastes. Here are a couple suggestions, then you play with it too.  You will need a large pot. You can also freeze this soup for a future day when you have "stuff" to add to it."

An Assortment of Soups

1 C. pearled barley, rinsed & drained
2 C. chopped onions
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
6 C. beef broth
1 12-oz. can V-8 Picante
1 lb. bag frozen mixed vegetables
10 oz. box frozen green beans
1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. each thyme and basil
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can great northern beans
freshly ground black pepper and salt

In a pot large enough to hold all of the above, sauté garlic and onions over medium heat in oil until onions are transparent. Then add mushrooms, and continue to sauté until they give up their liquid.  Add barley.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes, then add all the herbs, the broth, and V-8 Picante juice. 

Bring to boil, then turn heat down, cover and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally so the barley doesn't stick to the bottom.  If you use quick cooking barley you'll only need to cook it about 20 minutes in this step.  As the soup cooks and you add ingredients you may want to add more broth.  We like our soup quite thick.

Add all frozen vegetables.  Bring back to a boil, turn heat down to simmer again for another 20 minutes or until vegetables are "soup" tender. 

Add salt if needed, and plenty of fresh ground pepper.  Add the two cans of beans and cook another 10 or 15 minutes.

This will serve six very large bowls (16 oz. or a little more).  Two people can eat it "as is" once (figure about 1/3 of the recipe), then take half of what is left and alter it to taste. 

Add about 1/3 of a recipe of "Deanna's Dip", 3/4 cup medium salsa, a couple Tbsp. chopped fresh  cilantro, and 1/2 can chopped tomatoes. You'll have vegetable soup with a Mexican twist!

Moroccan food is also wonderful, so the last of the soup can be transformed into a North African tasting concoction by adding 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. cumin/ 1/2 tsp. turmeric; 1/8 tsp. cayenne; 1/2 tsp. Hungarian paprika; 1/4 tsp. powdered ginger; 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro; and a little more freshly ground pepper. (Yes, ALL of that!) It may be the best combination of all.

So, enjoy the soup, and enjoying playing with it.

The Sneaky Kitchen
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