It’s soup season! This vegan kale, barley & lentil stew
is super hearty and packed full of protein, fibre, and fresh flavour!
Wow, I thought I could magic it up a little when editing the photos for this recipe, but this soup is just not very photogenic. But I promise it tastes way better than it looks! The lentils and barley really soak up the flavour and give you a nice little bite while the kale, kale stem give you even more fibre. Tomato goodness, flavourful broth, and a kick from the jalapeno makes this one of my new favourite soups to make because it’s so hearty and tasty.
This was one of the soups we had at Friendsgiving this year and it wasn’t popular at first because the colour of kale tends to die a bit, but once people had a ladle-full to try (there were 4 soups to choose from, so they had to be aware of how much they could actually eat haha), people were surprised at how good it was.
But now that Friendsgiving has come and gone, we’ve been cleaning out our fridge by trying to eat up all the bits and bobs from recipe testing over the past couple weeks. We’ve also been trying to clean out our pantry because we found a little mousey friend who decided to eat all of my extra bags of spices and seeds I leave on the top shelf because they don’t fit in my containers. Unfortunately I ended up having to clear out about 1/3 of my cupboards, but it made me aware of how many of the same beans, lentils, and grains I have in multiple jars. Whoops. Definitely will have to be eating through all of those before we move.
Did I mention we’re moving?
We’re at a point now where our living arrangements are changing and we have to move sometime in Jan/Feb, and Eddie being so tired of moving all the time wants to buy a place. So with our modest income, we’re sort of forced to settle for a tiny shoebox condo in the city or move out to some of the industrial towns and find a cheaper fixer upper if we want some actual space.
It’s been an exciting but also terrifying process, making me doubt my decisions and wonder if I should have jumped into a more lucrative career or at least be more disciplined than I am now. Either way, I have to just breathe, hope for the best and see what we can get. It’s been fun talking through our imaginary lives with Eddie as we scroll from listing to listing. It makes me feel nervous and silly, but I know that even if our house looks like a sketchy little shack, it’ll be our sketchy little shack and we’ll be okay.
Anyway, having to hunker down and put all of our life’s savings (which, frankly, we don’t have much of already) into a house and the prospect of a mortgage has made me acutely aware of how much I could save if I really did just eat more whole foods and fewer processed vegan foods. While I’ll still gave for the occasional bit of vegan cheese, we’re going to be a lot better about prepping food at home so we don’t eat out as much. I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with beans in the instant pot lately, and while I didn’t love the IP at first, the BEANS in this thing are a whole new level. Never have I had more buttery, luscious beans. Never have I been this excited for my next batch of beans, haha. But that’s for another blog post.
This vegan kale, lentil and barley soup definitely can accommodate any of the random vegetables or grains you have in your fridge and pantry if you need to use them up, and because it’s so hearty, it’s great for freezing and eating later when you’re simply not in the mood to cook. I hope you enjoy it and give it a try, either on the stovetop or Instant pot, but I prefer the flavour you get from stovetop :)
Yields 12 cups soup
15 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
- 2 medium cooking onions, finely diced
- 3-5 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and finely minced
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and finely minced
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp concentrated vegetable bouillon paste (or just use broth instead of water)
- 3 jalapenos, pith removed (seeds optional), finely diced
- Stems from 1/2 a bunch of kale, finely diced (amount isn't too important, just chop whatever amount of kale you use)
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup pearl barley*, rinsed and drained
- 1 can diced tomatoes (796 mL/28 oz)
- 7 cups vegetable broth + more for deglazing or if you find the stew too thick (use 5 cups or until just covered if you're using instant pot method)
- 4 cups of kale, finely chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (you may need up to 2 tsp if your broth is unseasoned)
- In a large pot, cook onions with vegetable oil until translucent and the bottom is starting to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
- Add ground turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, ground coriander and stir to cook the spices (about a minute until fragrant). Use a splash of water or vegetable broth (whatever you're using) to deglaze the bottom of the pan and lift up any caramelized flavour before it burns.
- Add tomato paste and bouillon paste (if you're using it, otherwise leave out if you're using broth) and stir to coat ingredients.
- Add jalapenos, seeds (if using), and kale stems and stir to coat.
- Add the red lentils, pearl barley, and diced tomatoes and stir to break up any clumps of lentils/barley.
- Add the remaining vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a boil. Once bubbling steadily, lower to a simmer and cover the pot to cook for 20 min, stirring occasionally (the lentils like to settle at the bottom and burn if you leave them too long).
- If using an Instant pot, only add 5 cups of water/broth (or just until ingredients are covered). You can either add the kale and cilantro now or you can wait until afterwards, but I preferred adding it beforehand in the IP. Cook under sealed pressure for 15 minutes, either letting pressure release naturally or manual release.
- If just cooking over the stove, once the barley and lentils are cooked through, add in the kale and cilantro and stir in, cooking for another 3-5 minutes for the kale to cook through.
- Add black pepper and kosher salt to taste.
*To make this recipe gluten-free, use quinoa instead of pearl barley.