I have come to accept that I am a thirty year old mom. The moment hit me when on a road trip this weekend with my husband, two baby girls, and my in-laws. While at the hotel quietly enjoying soft conversation and a glass of white wine while the girls were sleeping in the adjoining room, I become unnerved and bothered by the 20 year old baseball players partying across the hall. What made me snap? Maybe it was the thought of my one daughter waking up to the noise and then waking up the other one and having to sooth them back to sleep. Maybe it was a hint of jealousy that these boys could enjoy their Friday libation in the hotel room and laugh as hard as they wanted. Whatever it was I became the 3o year old mom who walked across the hall, knocked on their door, and had to tell them to shut up. When they saw me in my pajamas through the peep hole, they all started shouting, “Oh no we are getting in trouble!” I guess I should embrace my thirtieth year, my mom status, and realize that it’s ok to get excited about 2 babies sleeping and enjoying a glass of wine over whispers in a Holiday Inn Express. Maybe it’s ok to get excited that I found a great one pot meal for my weekday cooking, one that my daughter actually ate. And maybe it’s ok to realize that my daughters’ sleep necessity is now the key to my happiness, not crazy Friday night party sessions. If you fit in the mom category like me, give this warm and welcoming soup a try. I hope your kids enjoy it too!
Tuscan Sausage Barley Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 cup pearled barley
8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
1 Parmesan cheese rind, optional
1 dried bay leaf
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives (for serving)
In a 5-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked sausage and reserve.
Add the barley and cook stirring constantly until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, fennel, leeks, cheese rind if using, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the barley is tender, about 35 minutes.
Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaf, and discard. Season the soup with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the cooked sausage and chopped chives.
Adapted from Tuscan Barley Soup from Giada Di Laurentiis