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from Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 c low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (12 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 c quick-cooking barley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried ground sage
pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, adding the garlic the last few minutes of cooking.

Add the broth, roasted peppers, barley, sage, cayenne (if using), salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring a few times, until the barley is tender, about 25 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.

I am so glad that I made a double batch of this! Normally I wouldn’t do that with a new recipe, especially from a new cookbook, but I just had a good feeling about this one. You know me, I love to have soup ready for lunches or a quick dinner awaiting me in the freezer, and I now have a batch of this fabulous hearty soup doing just that. I think I used a little extra barley- I bought in bulk and just eyeballed it; maybe that’s why this soup ended up so thick. I love it that way though. And the cayenne pepper! It adds a delightful little kick to the sweetness of the roasted red peppers. We all know it’s a good soup when the 18 month old says “Soup! Yummm! More!” and the husband has eaten so much that she can’t have any more. It’d be a sad story if there weren’t more of it lurking in the freezer.

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