Saturday, January 7, 2012

the weirdest spinach barley soup

This soup is the same sort of simple thing I make every time I get sick (I don't know what it is about Michigan, but I've been sick more times since I got here than in the two years prior to moving), but as of today I can taste things again, so I decided to do something interesting with it. By which I mean turn it into a fake Japanese dish, in a valiant effort to stop myself from going to the totally scrumptious ramen place across from my apartment every single day (I will fail because I cannot replicate their takoyaki at home).

Spinach Barley Soup

1/2 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
6 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked, rinsed barley
1 pound fresh spinach (you can substitute frozen)
a few splashes of mirin or red wine

Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until they soften. Add the paprika and curry powder and a splash of the mirin or wine and cook for a minute or so. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the barley and cook over medium heat for 30-45 minutes until the grains are soft enough to eat, then adjust the spices and add more mirin/wine if necessary. Add salt if you want to, but most beef broth is salty enough on its own.

Meanwhile, chop the spinach into small strips by bunching up a handful and making narrow slices across the bunch (watch your fingers). When the barley is soft and the flavor is how you want it, stir in the spinach and cook for another five to ten minutes.

See? Boring soup. But if you add a splash of sriracha sauce, half a hard-boiled egg, some slices of pork loin, a handful of panko, and a bit more fresh spinach, you have some delicious fake ramen. And you can delay your trip across the street another day.

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