15.5ouncecanned cannellini beansdrained and rinsed, see note #2
4 and ½cupsvegetable broth
2cupsshredded kale or collards
freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh Parmesanfor serving
Start by heating olive oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat. Once hot, add diced onions, carrots and celery as well as the sliced Italian veggie sausages.
Saute for 8-10 minutes, or until onions are golden brown. The sausage should be lightly crisped and brown as well.
Add garlic and saute a minute more, until golden. Add balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.
Add all remaining ingredients to the pot except for shredded kale (thyme, bay leaves, salt, cannellini beans, pearl barley, vegetable broth). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer over medium-low.
Simmer uncovered until the pearl barley is cooked through, about 30 minutes. The barley should be soft but still slightly chewy.
Add shredded kale or collards. Simmer until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Taste for salt and serve with freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Vegetarian Italian sausage:Tofurky makes my favorite meatless sausage, but Field Roast and many other brands make delicious equivalents. Skip the sausage for a soy-free meal.
Beans: One can beans is equivalent to about 1 and ½ cups cooked beans. I recommend using cannellini beans, but great northern beans, navy beans or small white beans also work.
Storage and reheating: Keep leftovers refrigerated for 3-4 days. Reheat individual bowls in the microwave. You can also return the entire pot to the stovetop and reheat over medium heat until warmed through.
Freezing instructions: Let cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer safe container. Leave at least an inch of room at the top of the container. Freeze for up to three months. Let thaw completely in the fridge before reheating.