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Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup with Pearled Barley

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.

I'm trying random combinations of ingredients to come up with the simplest way to make a hearty vegetable soup for the cold winter days ahead. Here's an initial try that was quite good, and with the pearled barley was filling.

I don't generally like the texture of frozen vegetables other than peas but in this setting they cook through well enough so that I don't mind them. I was glad to finally find a purpose for the ones that have been in my freezer for a while. Buying them always seem like a good idea when I see them in the store, since they usually retain the nutritional value of fresh vegetables. Actually cooking and eating them is another story.

This attempt was a winner.  If I get used to preparing frozen veggies in the slow cooker, I can keep them on hand and it may save me a trip to the store!

Ingredients:
About 30 oz low sodium vegetable broth (365 brand, e.g.)
28 oz diced tomatoes
16 oz frozen vegetables (e.g. carrots, peas, string beans cut in 2 to 3 pieces)
6 ounces sliced mushrooms
16 oz canned corn, drained
1/2 cup uncooked pearled barley or other healthy grain
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
15 oz chickpeas, rinsed and drained

To serve:  Add a splash of white balsamic vinegar or lime; or top with cheese and reheat.

Directions:
1) Combine broth, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, pasta and herbs in slow cooker.
2) Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 2-3 hours. For a firmer consistency, add the chickpeas toward the end, then cook on high 10 minutes or until heated through.
3) When serving, can add a splash of white balsamic vinegar, lime or cheese. Vinegar is my preference.

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