Any winter squash will do here (though perhaps not spaghetti squash). Butternut is the easiest of the winter squashes to peel. In this soup you could also leave the peel on, though you might have to increase their cooking time before adding the greens, depending on the choice of squash.
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c pearl barley
6 c broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 t dried
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1/2 t dried
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 c butternut squash, (peeled) and chopped up
3 – 4 c chopped greens–kale, turnip greens, chard, spinach, mustard…or a combo
salt and pepper, to taste
1 – 2 T lemon juice, per serving, or to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste, optional
fresh herbs for garnish, optional
1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook. stirring often, for 1 or 2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add pearl barley, stirring to coat with oil, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
2. Add stock, thyme, and rosemary. Increase heat to bring soup to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and cook for an hour, until the barley is barely tender. Add carrot and squash, and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes, until squash is tender. Add greens and cook until done to your liking (spinach will cook faster than kale), 5 to 10 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
3. Ladle soup into bowls, adding lemon juice and cayenne pepper, if using, to each serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, if you like.