White Bean and Barley Soup with Baby Kale

Ready for a holiday detox? After days (or maybe weeks…) of holiday bingeing on rich meats, cheeses, desserts, cookies and eggnog your body is most likely screaming for something clean and nutritious. This toasted barley soup with kale and white beans is just the ticket. This soup is filled with antioxidants and veggies and allows your body to hit to reset button after all of the holiday gluttony. What’s so fantastic about this soup is that you can substitute a lot of the ingredients…if you prefer wheat berries or farro to barley, use that instead! If you don’t like kale and want to use spinach, go for it! The grains in this soup hold up nicely for leftovers as the grains stay quite chewy unlike pasta when reheated several days later. I like to finish off this soup with shaved parmesan and fresh cracked pepper. This will definitely be on my dinner table tonight!

Toasted Barley Soup with Baby Kale and White Beans
Serves 8
A hearty post-holiday detox soup full of grains, veggies, and white beans. This soup has an Italian twist with tomato paste, crushed red pepper, and the swap of grains for pasta.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
  1. 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  2. 1 small fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped
  3. 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  4. 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 1 cup grains (barley, farro, or wheat berries)
  7. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  8. salt and pepper
  9. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  10. 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  11. 12 cups chicken broth (I prefer to use low-sodium...remember this is a holiday detox recipe!)
  12. 1/2 bag or container of baby kale (it may seem like a lot but it wilts down very quickly)
  13. 1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
  14. Shaved parmesan for serving
  1. Pulse onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with fennel, carrot and celery, placing vegetables in a bowl with onion.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add grains and cook, stirring often, until grains are a couple of shades darker, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add onion, fennel, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 6-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and cook until paste is slightly darkened, about 1 minute.
  4. Add broth to pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until grains are tender, 60-70 minutes. Stir kale and beans into soup and cook until kale is wilted and beans are warmed through, about 4 minutes.
  5. Serve soup with shaved parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper sprinkled on top. Soup can also be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill and reheat on stove before serving.
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