We created a soup like this for Food Not Bombs, in San Francisco, and I will always remember how happy it made everyone (except for my roommate who was pissed at me for dumping a whole bottle of her tamari into the soup. She was also pissed at me for not paying rent but that’s another matter entirely). Eating this soup makes me think I am in Mother Russia in the late 19th century; I’ve come home after strolling the promenade in Saint Petersburg and I’m getting ready to complete the next chapter of my tragic novel, but first—soup.
1In a stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tarragon, and pepper; sauté until fragrant (about a minute).
2Add 8 cups of water, the beets, barley, and tamari, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
3Add the beans and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the barley from sticking together, or until the barley is tender. Add the balsamic vinegar and fresh dill.
4Serve with pumpernickel croutons, and garnish with more fresh dill.
For the pumpernickel croutons:
1Preheat oven to 400°F. In a wide shallow bowl, stir together the olive oil, tarragon, and salt. Add the diced bread and toss gently to coat. Spread the bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, toast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and let cool.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.