Serve this delicious hearty and healthy soup during the comfortable days of Autumn as well as the cold days of Winter! It guarantees to satisfy!A helpful tip: Soak the beans overnight, in about 8 cups of cold water, just for a little re-assurance that they will not be "crunchy" when the soup is finished.
- 1 cup dried Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
- 6 cups water
- 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juice
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 medium carrot, chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, optional
- 3 cups cleaned baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Coarse Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to season
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Put beans, water, tomatoes and their juices, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, barley, bay leaf, herb blend, pepper, and porcini mushrooms (if using) in a slow cooker; cover and cook on LOW until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours.
Stir in the spinach, cheese, and vinegar, cover, and let the soup cook until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drizzle each serving with olive oil.