March 11, 2019

Veggie Barley Bean Soup and Psychology talk

Needless to say, it's definitely quite elementary to instantiate a thought, that not many of us can create a recipe. Moreover, I know many people, who never liked to try recipes from cooking books. I understand them and never push doubt ones to start to improve their cooking skills with unfamiliar recipes. My sensitivity comes from knowledge, which might be helpful for many of us.

Being from very memorable Jewish family in our city, my psychology professor Boris Blyuminshteyn, who now lives in Israel, decided to demonstrate to us, students, how idea of feedback works in psychology. Knowing there are only few Jewish students in auditorium, he asked the question: "What do you feel or think when you want to make a borscht?" Most of students started to smile showing all signs of very recognizable, pleasant and even desired situation. Then he asked quietly a second question: "Do you want to make Sweet & Sour Beef Stew with Prunes (esik fleisch)?" It sounded like a puzzle, which can disorient most of people, who never heard or tried this only for Jews recognizable delicacy. He took off his glasses and said with very satisfied look: "Most of you don't know what it is. Your brain cannot create a feedback. You show all signs of unpredictability, which builds low expectations and even anxiety." And he is right. Even decision to make something new creates distress for many of us and only need with emotional commitment and mental acquisitiveness with internal discipline can charge us with energy and power to go through a quite provocative process such cooking, which in many cases starts with interesting recipe.

About a month ago I made Sunday Soup with Veggies, Chicken and Barley. I don't want to spend a lot of time describing how it's good and satisfying, especially in a winter time, but I would like to tell you, that this recipe gave me an idea how to create a similar, but another bowl of goodness. Needless to say, I knew, it will work. My previous experience gave me enough wisdom to proof myself, I have to try. This recipe is quite lighter, with unique flavor of fennel and satisfy easily any vegetarian.

Many people, especially nowadays, generally don't see a monetary worth in reading, especially books, and I would like to remind all of you, that reading is not about money, it's about strong and healthy feedback, which always brings only excellent payoffs in a life. Our life has beginning and the end, and only each of us has a dominated authority to create the feedback. Remember, you reap what you sow.

P.S. For sure, I'm one of few thankful students of my psychology professor, who remember all my life how he taught us to create a healthy feedback and, most important, go to dates wisely. I promise to tell you the story later.

Veggie Barley Bean Soup 

Makes about 10 cups (2.5 l)

2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
Half of a large fennel bulb
2 medium garlic gloves
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium-to-large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1/3 cup quick barley
3/4 cup canned white beans, rinsed under cold water and drained
1 & 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon garlic-chili sauce
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
Sour cream for serving

Combine onion, garlic and fennel in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until all of the vegetables are chopped into tiny pieces, but don't let them get mushy. Using a spatula take out the mixture and place in a medium bowl. Set aside. Don't clean up the bowl and add carrot, sweet and regular potato in the same bowl. Pulse a few times until all of the vegetables are chopped into tiny pieces, but don't let them get mushy. Take out the mixture and place in another medium bowl. Set aside as well.

Pour the vegetable stock and water in a large pot and bring to boil. Add potato-carrot mixture, lower the heat to medium and start to simmer.

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion-fennel mixture and saute for 7 minutes, stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon. Lightly sprinkle with salt, ground black pepper and add a soy sauce. Continue saute for 3-4 minutes longer. Add mixture to a large pot with simmering veggie mixture. Pour barley and simmer the mixture for 15-20 minutes under the lid, until vegetables are soft and barley is fully cooked. Stir occasionally.

Add drained and rinsed beans, dill and parsley, lemon juice and chili-garlic sauce to a pot. Finally, check for salt and pepper. Add, if you need. I added 2 teaspoons of salt. Simmer for 3-4 minutes longer. Serve at once with sour cream. In most cases I serve these soups in a very next day giving a chance to flavors to be developed.

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