Farmhouse Bread Stew

Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves:4

The addition of bread to the stew during the last 5 minutes of cooking really makes this dish a special treat. This is a very hearty stew, best served in a wide, deep bowl.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrots, chopped
  • 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pearled barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups hearty bread, chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Place a small amount of the broth in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until vegetable soften slightly. Add the remaining broth, canned tomatoes, beans, barley, bay leaf, oregano and ground pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 55 minutes. Add the spinach, cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add the bread and cook for about 5 minutes longer. Serve at once.

Hints: If you prepare this stew ahead of time, do not add the bread until just before serving. A hearty Artisan type bread that is about 2 days old works very well in this recipe. Softer breads do not hold their shape well in this stew. I used small red beans in this recipe, but this could also be made with other kinds of beans, such as white or black.