Bean, Barley & Greens Stew

bean & barley stew with grated parmesan & pepper

This is one of our family’s absolute favourites. When we have lots of leftovers on offer for hot lunches, this is often the dish that gets eaten first. I prefer it vegetarian; the rest of the family prefers it with a little leftover sausage to really bring out its close-to-cassoulet flavour. This is an adaptation of Bean & Barley Soup from Eating Well.


  • 1 T olive oil

Group 1

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • a head of garlic, minced
  • 4-8 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 t fennel seed (or substitute a bulb or two of fennel for some of the celery)
  • 3-4 medium carrots, chopped (optional)
  • a pinch of salt

Group 2

  • 6 c cooked white beans (canned is fine, you will need 3 standard 15-oz cans)
  • 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • ~8 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
  • 1.5 c barley
  • a pinch of salt

Group 3

  • lots of greens; e.g., 500g frozen kale or 300g fresh baby spinach
  • a big handful of fresh basil (frozen fresh basil works beautifully)
  • cooked sausage, bacon, ham, etc. (optional)
  • a pinch of salt


  • grated parmesan (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper


  • Sauté group 1 in olive oil for 6-8 minutes in a large soup pot.
  • Mash 1 cup of the beans, then add group 2 to the pot. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer until barley is tender, about 15-25 minutes depending on type of barley and how aggressively the pot is simmering.
  • Stir in group 3 and cook a few minutes until greens are cooked through and still bright green (about 3 minutes for frozen kale, more like 1 minute for fresh baby spinach.)
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Garnish with grated parmesan, if desired, and pepper.


Makes about 30 1-cup scoops, or about 15 servings.


Made with carrots included, 2L broth/stock, and no optional sausage last time, this worked out to about 30 cups total stew, with a 2-cup serving having 226 calories, 48.2 g CHO, 12.5 g fibre, 11.8 g protein, 2 g fat. Exact nutrition will depend on your own choices of how much of each ingredient you actually put in.

This freezes very well. Leftovers also keep well in the fridge for at least 4-5 days.

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