This comforting vegan vegetable soup recipe was inspired by the old folktale Stone Soup, a story of hungry travelers who teach an entire village to share. Denied food by the villagers, the travelers set about making a large pot of soup with just stones and water, which they invite the locals to share. Curious villagers begin making small contributions to the soup—an onion, a potato, some barley—until they’ve created a large, wonderful meal for all to enjoy.
Not just a lesson in sharing, the story highlights how a few rustic ingredients from the garden can nourish mind, body, and soul. After all, is there anything quite as good as a hearty, vegetable-based soup? Pair it with a salad and some whole grain bread, and you have a satisfying meal packed with nutrients.
Add lentils, barley, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, pepper, paprika, thyme, oregano, and mustard. Stir well, and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, until barley and lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Replace any water lost to evaporation (should make a thick, hearty texture).
Toast the bread in the oven or toaster until brown and very crisp. Slice into small cubes to make croutons.
Add lemon juice and fresh herbs to the soup, and season lightly with salt, if desired.
Serve soup garnished with whole grain croutons (about ½ slice of toast per serving).
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Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, is an award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, editor, author of The Plant-Powered Diet, blogger at The Plant-Powered Dietitian, and nationally recognized plant-based nutrition expert. She lives outside of Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.