Bonjour de Belgique! What a whirlwind these past couple of months have been. My boyfriend and I picked up and moved to Belgium, about 30 minutes south of the hip happening city of Brussels. He signed with a professional volleyball team here, and so far, is having a great season personally! We are absolutely LOVING life in Belgium so far. I mean, one of the national foods is chocolate…how can you go wrong? I’m definitely going to be a chocolate snob when we go back to Canada, but is that really such a bad thing?!
We have done quite a bit of travelling around Belgium so far, there are so many beautiful cities (and amazing restaurants), just in this little country! We also just booked a Christmas trip to Paris…#christmasinparis2017, how flippin’ cool is that? I look forward to creating travel posts to share with you, obviously including our favourite places to eat. Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments (*willing to travel anywhere for good food!!!*)!
Although we love the life here, as someone who loves to cook and create recipes, it has been very hard (and quite pricey!) starting from empty cupboards and little kitchen equipment. We’ve been working on stocking up our kitchen of basic things like spices, baking supplies, and of course all my favourite ‘health’ products/supplements (my beloved seeds, nuts, protein, spirulina, wheatgrass, etc), and I think we finally have succeeded. Not to mention how difficult it was replacing my trusty Canadian brands! But it has been done! Phew!
All that said, I am excited to start sharing recipes with you again. I made this white bean and barley soup when I was back in Canada, and have been waiting to make it again here…but it’s hard to make when there isn’t a large soup pot in your kitchen! So, I finally got my hands on one that I didn’t have to dish out tones of money for, and here we are. This soup was made with basic things we had in our fridge, and it ended up reminding me exactly of a soup that my grandmother used to make…we called it “babcia’s soup”! I love it, because if you don’t have one ingredient, no worries, just use a different vegetable instead! I love putting mushrooms in it (even though I get evil stares from my mushroom hating boyfriend). The soup also makes great leftovers, and freezes well too. It’s packed with nutrients from all of the vegetables, has a lovely Italian spice mix, and is super easy to throw together. It doesn’t take too long to prep everything, then throw on a couple episodes of Friends while it’s simmering, and voila, c’est bonne!!!
Prep and cook time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
¾ cup pearl barley
6-7 cups vegetable stock
2 cups broccoli (approx 1 large head)
1 cup cauliflower (approx half a head)
3 small-medium carrots
1 medium sweet potato
2 celery stalks
1 can white kidney beans
Italian seasoning: 1 tsp each of basil, thyme, sage, and oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine vegetable stock and barley in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer.
2. While simmering, chop all your veggies into bite sized pieces! After 20-30 minutes, add the vegetables, beans, spices, salt and pepper to the barley and vegetable stock. Place on low-medium heat, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes. Your barley should be cooking for about an hour in total, so keep that in mind.
3. Stirring occasionally, and tasting, add salt and pepper as needed.
4. After about an hour, your barley should be soft, vegetables tender, and your soup ready to go! Enjoy on a nice brisk fall day!
As I said, this soup makes great leftovers…but with many soups, the liquid will soak up into the vegetables and barley a little while in the fridge. While reheating, I recommend adding just a bit of boiling water!