Sunday, February 10, 2013

Barley and Kabocha Squash with Ham Soup

February has took off with my birthday at the beginning of the month, and I have been really busy ever since, mostly with school homework and many things (my apologies for the absence!)  And now is the Chinese New Year; and the Valentine’s is around the corner….OMG! 

With so many things in front of me waiting to be finished over the next few weeks, I think I might have to cut down my cooking and posting time for quite a bit!  I feel really sad right now.

The weather in L.A. has been so freezing cold lately, and I become so lazy when it’s cold.  However, the cold weather like this is so perfect for a big bowl of good-for-your-soul soup to warm up the body a little.  Since the weather has been this cold, I’ve been making and eating all kind of soups, not to mention that I can eat soup any time of the year, hot or cold.  And I’d like to share with you this Barley and Kabocha squash soup with Ham.  This soup is so easy to make. It’s hearty and healthy loaded with all of the goodness from barley and squash…and ham is a bonus – the part that will keep you warm.  However, if you like the soup just all the veggies goodness, skip the meat.

This soup has a little zing of fresh ginger and garlic for health purpose. But there’s not a secret about that if you’ve been following me, you’ll see that I've added ginger and garlic to almost every dish on my blog.  In fact, I never run out of ginger and garlic at my house because I’d freak out if I see them start to disappear.  Ginger and garlic are spices and they will definitely keep you warm.

I used dried pearl barley and added them directly into the boiling pot which it took longer to cook.  I’d suggest that you soak them in water for 30 minutes to soften them up a little so they can be cooked faster.  Notes to myself next time not to forget to do that!

What you need:   for 4 servings
1 cup dried pearl barley
2 cups Kabocha squash, cubed
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cups ham, cubed
2 handful baby spinach
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp Sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
How to:

- Over medium heat, add olive oil in to a heavy bottom pan, add onion and garlic to cook for 1 minute, then add ham, carrot, and celery and continue to cook another 4-5 minutes.

- Add chicken broth and water into the pot and add barley, Kabocha squash, thyme and ginger and season with salt and pepper, then lower the heat to simmer.  Let them cook covered/uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until the barley get really plump up and soften.

- After the barley cooked through and soften, add baby spinach and cook another 1 minute, turn off the heat.
*Notes: use salt sparingly according to the saltiness from the ham you have, if used.


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