This is a thick soup–if you like, add some hot water or broth towards the end of the cooking time to thin it some. This is perfectly delicious without the meat, add some mushrooms along with the onions if you like, for a variation of mushroom barley soup. You can, of course, also add the mushrooms if you are using meat. The carrots and greens can be added at any point in the soup making. If you like really tender carrots and greens in your soup, add them at the boil. Go with your personal preference.

1 T vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb ground beef, or other meat
1/2 c pearled barley
6 c beef broth, vegetable broth, broth/water, or water
1 t dried thyme or other dried herb
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 c sliced carrots
1 bunch kale or other greens, stemmed, coarsely chopped
additional broth or water, heated, if necessary

1. Heat oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and sauté for about five minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add ground beef (or mushrooms if not using meat) and cook, stirring, until meat is no longer pink, about five minutes longer. For mushrooms, cook for about the liquid they release has evaporated some.

2. Add barley and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the broth, herb, salt, and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add carrots and kale. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes, until barley is tender. If the soup is too thick for your liking,
add some additional hot liquid and heat through. Taste for seasonings and serve.