Tu Bishvat is Coming: Let’s Start with Soup

As someone who loves to cook, Tu Bishvat, coming up on February 8 this year, is more than just “The New Year of the Trees”. I love the directive to eat the fruits of the Land of Israel, particularly those that are singled out in the Torah. The beautiful verses of Deuteronomy 8:7-9 say “For the Lord your God is bringing you to a good land, a land with brooks of water, fountains and depths, that emerge in valleys and mountains, a land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, you will lack nothing in it…” are so poetic and inspire me.

This week I’ll be sharing recipes I’ve come up with that include some of the seven species of the Land of Israel that we should eat at on this day, the species that have always exemplified the fertility of the Land of Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. As time has moved on, Israel has become a global center of agricultural excellence and since the days of our forefathers, we’ve emerged as a leading innovator and developer of some wonderful new species of fruits and vegetables. This week’s recipes celebrate Israel’s rich and wonderful growing tradition that began in the days of the Torah.

Barley, Mushroom, Bean and Leek Soup

Barley is one of the seven species. With Tu Bishvat falling in the cold days of mid-winter, a steaming pot of hearty barely soup is the perfect start to a Tu Bishvat meal. As with many soups, you can really have fun with this recipe and add any additional vegetables you like.

BARLEY, MUSHROOM, BEAN AND LEEK SOUP

Ingredients

1½ cup pearl barley

1½ cup navy beans (small white beans or any small beans you like)

3 cloves garlic crushed

1 bay leaf

1 leek chopped

3 medium carrots diced

3 stalks of celery diced

10-15 mushrooms chopped

2 large ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

2 liters (2 quarts) parev chicken soup stock

Salt and pepper to taste

How to do it

1. Rinse the beans and barley and in a large pot, soak the beans and barley overnight  in water (make sure you have at least 3 times the amount of water than the beans and barley. Remove any beans that have floated to the top.).

2. Drain the water and add more cold water – about 3 times the amount of water than the beans and barley. Add the garlic and bay leaf and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until both the beans and the barley are soft. (Most of the water will cook away and you’ll be left with a very porridgey mixture – don’t worry.)

2. Add the leeks, carrots, mushrooms, parsley and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then add the tomato, parsley and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for another 15 minutes.

This will make a nice big pot of soup that will easily feed 10. If the soup is too heavy, you can dilute it with some additional chicken stock.

Serve with thick slices of whole wheat bread to add to the Tu Bishvat experience.

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