Who is C-O-L-D?? I am, but as a lot of you already know, I am always cold. I have the perfect solution to beat the cold and this crappy weather- my Gram H's Ham Barley Soup. This is a recipe that I have loved since I was a little girl. My Gram H. knew that my little sister and I loved this soup (as well as her fabulous spaghetti.) When we would go to my grandparent's house in the winter for a weekend sleep over, she would make this for us. It was the best possible food to eat after spending the day outside playing in the snowy Pennsylvania weather. I can still see her standing by the stove stirring the pot of soup in between hands of our favorite card game, Kings on the Corner.
When I got older and moved so far away, I craved this soup. One day, probably 10 years ago now, I really wanted this soup. Since Gram lives so far away, the only way that I was going to get my soup is if I made it myself. I picked up the phone and called her. She walked me through the simple recipe and I made a great pot of soup. Of course, it is always best when Gram makes her recipes, but I thought I did a pretty good job. Now, every time I make this soup, I call Gram and tell her that I am stirring a pot of her Ham Barley Soup. It makes her happy to know that I love her soup and that I am keeping her recipe alive. It is also a great time to fill her in on my latest doings and to just have a few good laughs. Even after all these years, this soup continues to bring us together.
Ham Barley SoupThis soup is so simple and so good. The ham adds a little saltiness and the barley makes this soup filling enough to eat as a meal. At Gram's house, we always ate it with a slab of her homemade Italian bread slathered in butter. To this day, I can't think of eating it any better way!!
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
16 oz. cubed ham
5-6 carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
2- 15 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
32 oz. chicken stock
6 cups of water
1 1/2 cups barley
In a large pot, heat up the olive oil. Add the onions, celery, garlic and ham and sauté for 5-8 minutes until fat from the ham is rendered and the vegetables are softened. Add the carrots, bay leaves, tomatoes, stock and water. Bring to a boil. When you reach a boil, add the barley and simmer for about 25 minutes. You will want to turn the heat off before the barley is done. It will continue to cook in the hot liquid after the hear has been removed. The soup can be eaten when the barley has plumped. If you know you will not be able to eat it all soon, you can freeze this soup in individual plastic containers.