Serves 8 or +
Vegetable–and–barley soup is one of my favorites, and I like to make a big pot of it, then freeze the extra. When I come home from the restaurants in the evening, a plate of this -piping–hot soup and a glass of Morellino steals the day. It is always great to have a stash of goodies in the freezer, and nothing is better than having pints of good soup awaiting unexpected family members or guests who show up for dinner; a frozen soup or sauce saves the day. Just remember to package everything well and label and date all the foods you freeze, so you can rotate them properly.
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups peeled, cubed russet potatoes
- 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1½ cups peeled, chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 pound split peas, rinsed
- 3 cups barley, rinsed
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- 2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
Put the ham hocks in a saucepan, and cover them with water. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes to remove some of the saltiness. Drain and rinse.
In a large soup pot, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes, and sauté until they begin to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Add the leeks, carrots, and celery, and sauté until everything is coated in the oil. Add 8 quarts of water, the split peas, and the ham hocks, and bring to a rapid simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the peas have broken down, about 45 minutes.
Add the barley, and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes. The split peas should be broken down and have made the soup thick and creamy at this point. Add the spinach, corn, and salt, and simmer until the spinach is tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.