My partnership with FRESHFARM markets continues today with a trip to the FRESHFARM Dupont Circle farmers market.

One of my most favorite places in Washington, D.C. is the farmers market at Dupont Circle. I don’t know exactly what makes this market so very different from the others, but it just is. The vibe is energizing and the air is always positive. On my last visit there, I generated heated debates with folks who wanted to talk to me about my T-shirt. My T-shirt read “Vodka, Connecting People” and everyone had an opinion about it. In the end, we all agreed that it was true since it had people “connecting with me.”

The market is in full swing with fall produce:

What caught my eye (other than the lovely baby Chinese ginger above), was the NextStepProduce was selling whole grains. I am always getting emails from readers about how to use grains like barley so I thought I would buy some and share a very simple recipe on making barley soup. I have the say that the folks at NextStepproduce were great to talk to. They did tell me that the one day someone comes in to talk to the farmer, he isn’t there! It was his only vacation day and I missed him! Here is a bit from their website on how they recommend using barley — “Whole-grain barley is sweet and earthy-tasting, with a lovely, tender-chewy texture. It’s a delicious addition to soups, stews, and pilafs. Try using it place of rice for a different take on risotto, or in a stuffing for kabocha squash. Roasted and soaked, barley also makes a warming, restorative tea you can drink warm or at room temperature. Rolled into flakes, it can be blended with oats for a variation on traditional muesli.”

Monica’s Super Easy Curried Barley Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups chopped red onions

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

2 green chilies, minced  (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

12 cups (or more)  vegetable broth

1/2 cup pearl barley (soaked overnight)

1 cup dried lentils

4 cups (packed) coarsely chopped baby spinach (or kale)

Heat oil in large nonreactive pot over medium-high heat.

When the oil shimmers, add onions and sauté until onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and ginger and stir 1 minute. Add the green chile, if using.

Mix in the cumin and the curry powder and stir 30 seconds.

Add the broth, barley and lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about an hour. If the broth begins to dry up, add two more cups.

Once the barely and the lentils are cooked, add spinach to soup; cover and simmer until spinach is tender, about 5 minutes.

Serve. (I don’t add any salt to this soup as I don’t think it needs it but, of course you can season to taste)

So here is one of my fav ways to top soup — with sev. This is a fried snack made with chickpea flour. It adds a nice crunch to the soup. You can purchase this at any Indian grocery store. It is an optional topping, of course, but I highly recommend it!

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