In winter, few things are as comforting as a bowl of hot soup. Rich, savory soup such as what you see before you, with some bread to go along with it, can make for a nice, simple, satisfying, healthful and frugal meal, with little enough effort on your part.
Red kidney beans, barley and potato soup
1 cup of red kidney beans, soaked overnight
2 large potatoes
1\2 cup of pearl barley
1 sweet bell pepper
6 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp. of tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
Chop the veggies as you like. I like my onions chopped finely and my potatoes diced, but some may like chunkier potatoes and onions sliced to rings.
A bit of hot pepper (I used fresh; I have grown to really like using fresh hot pepper, finely chopped, though of course you might use the dry and powdered version. Whenever I use fresh hot pepper, I make sure to thoroughly wash my hands with soap afterwards – otherwise my hands sting and burn later)
Spices to taste. I used a dash of red paprika, cumin and turmeric.
The great thing about soups is that some or all ingredients, more often than not, can be easily varied, doubled, halved, replaced, and even omitted. Some of the best soups I ever made were simply whatever veggies were left over in the refrigerator, chopped and tossed into boiling water, spiced and simmered.
You must make sure that the vegetables that take longer time to cook (such as carrots) are added earlier than others (such as tomatoes).
Take a large pot and sautee the onions with a bit of oil for a couple of minutes, then add the boiling water and the beans. Let cook for approx. 10 minutes. Add carrot, potatoes and pearl barley. Wait another 5 minutes and add sweet pepper, then garlic, fresh hot pepper if you use it, and tomato paste. Add salt and spices to taste and let the soup simmer until the beans are soft (they typically take longer than everything else).
If the soup is ready but the beans are not soft enough for your liking, next time you can let them cook a longer time before adding anything else.
PS: I probably won't be able to squeeze in an update before Hanukkah, so a happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish readers