One note: I don't use any added salt when I make this because DH doesn't do added salt, however, I can't eat it without adding salt. To me, salt is a must.
I like to eat it with salt, a drop or two of hot sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. DH used hot sauce and Mrs. Dash.
Almost Sweet Tomato's Pinto Bean & Barley Soup with Basil
1 small pkg pinto beans (16 oz)
1 c low sodium vegetable broth
2 c or 2 stalks sliced celery (not diced)
1-1 1/2 c sliced carrots
a heaping 1/2 c chopped red onion
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 tsp basil
1/2 c fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
garlic powder ( I didn't measure this, but start with a couple of good shakes-you can always add more later. I wanted to used minced garlic but was out)
4 c vegetable broth
8 c water
1/3 c barley
optional: hot sauce, Parmesan cheese, Mrs. Dash ( I especially like the tomato basil flavor, but the regular one will do.
Prepare beans as you like for cooking. You can presoak them overnight, but it is not necessary. Sort and wash beans. Put them in a soup pot covered with water 2 inches above where the beans are. Also add 1 c vegetable broth . Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 1 hour.
After an hour or so, drain beans and rinse them. Rinse the soup pot out too to get all the foamy, dirty residue out of it.
Put beans back into the pan. Add celery through water. Stir to mix together and bring to a boil once again. Put a lid on it, turn down heat, and simmer several hours to all day. You want your beans to be tender and falling apart. Add more water or broth as needed to make sure you keep a good amount of liquid in the pot. About an hour before serving, add barley, a little cayenne, and more garlic powder if needed. Simmer till its done, maybe about 45 minutes or so. It's better to start with a little cayenne and then have to add more later because you want just a little kick...nothing too overpowering. When barley is tender, discard bay leaves and put some of the soup in a blender ( I did 1 1/2 c beans and veggies mixture & 1- 1 1/2 c. liquid). Blend to mix well, then pour back into soup pot. If it's still not the consistency you want you can blend up some more. This adds consistency to your soup and thickens it up. Stir and serve.
Use optional toppings if you choose.