Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bean and Barley Soup

One of the questions I frequently get, is why I soak beans with a pinch of soda. One of the reasons for that is that it makes beans much softer and easier to cook. The other reason is that I have heard it makes beans more easily digestible. One thing to note when soaking beans with a pinch of soda is to make sure and  drain the water the beans have been soaked in and cook the beans in fresh water.

In any case I hear that throwing the water in which beans have been soaked is important. I got this tip in  a Sanjeev kapoor cookbook, which explains that soaking, draining and then cooking beans destroys the anti nutritional factors like tripsin inhibitors. Tripsin inhibitors reduce protein digestibility and by draining the bean soak water, the digestibility of beans improve. The tip specially mentions that draining water in which beans are soaked is good because that water can do more harm than good.

Moving on, this soup was something I created when I was in the mood for soup one day. I used pinto beans in this, because I love the texture of pinto beans and I thought it would go well with the other flavors and vegetables in this soup. It did work well and both R and I enjoyed this soup with some crusty store bought bread.

Pinto Bean and Barley Soup | Veg Inspirations

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Ingredients and Method to make Bean and Barley soup

1 cup dried pinto beans soaked for 6 hours or so with a pinch of soda (the soda is optional) (see notes)

1 medium onion cut fine (pyaaz)
1/2 tsp minced ginger (see notes)(adrak)
1/2 cup pearled barley
2 medium tomatoes cut fine (tamatar)
2 large carrots cut into 1/4 inch pieces (gajar)
1 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
2 small bay leaves (tej patta)
salt to taste (namak)
1 tsp red chili powder (or to taste) (lal mirch)
1 and 1/4 tsp cumin powder (or to taste)(jeera powder)
4 cups vegetarian vegetable stock or water (I used water)
2 Tbsp oil
1-2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
3-4 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania/ kothamalli ) for garnish

Drain the water that the beans were soaked in, fill container with fresh water and pressure cook or cook
on stove top until beans are soft but not mushy.( I use the pressure cooker ). Keep cooked beans aside.

Place pearl barley in a container, fill with water, swirl with hand a couple of times and drain water. Keep barley aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan, add onions and saute until onions are transparent.Add minced ginger and stir a few times.

Add tomatoes and stir until tomatoes are cooked and mushy.
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Add bay leaves, all the spices and stir a couple of times.

Add carrots, corn, barley, salt to taste  and water or stock and allow the vegetables / barley to cook.

When the vegetables and barley get cooked and soft, add the cooked pinto beans, adjust water to achieve required consistency and let the soup simmer for another fifteen to twenty minutes for the flavors to come together.

Just before serving add lemon juice (if using)  and garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with a crusty bread of choice.

Serves approximately 3 - 4

You can substitute red kidney beans (rajma) instead of pinto beans if you want.
If you would like to use canned pinto beans, you would need approx 2 15 oz cans of pinto beans. Just rinse the beans thoroughly and add to the soup after the barley and vegetables are cooked and simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle.
You can also use 1/2 tsp minced ginger + 1/2 tsp minced garlic instead of just ginger

If you are looking for other recipes with barley, here are a few more

Keerai Oat Barley Adai ~ Savory Spinach and Oat crepes

Curried Mung bean and barley soup ~ Whole moong soup

Quinoa Oat Barley Adai  ~ Savory Oat and Quinoa crepes

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