Hello Moringa and Barley Minestrone Soup. Do you wonder how moringa leaves found their way into my hearty Italian stew? The truth is, once I am looking for ways to incorporate a beautiful, nutritious plant in my cuisine, you never know where it will show up. In this case, I was helped by a chat in the garden with my Hawaiian auntie friend.
To give a little background, I have to admit some ignorance and laugh at my Haole ways. You see moringa began showing up in the media a couple years ago as the new superfood. So a discussion popped up at the community garden with some members as to how we could establish some moringa trees. Well, here’s the funny part. It turns out we had several moringa trees already growing on the property. It was only some of us that were unaware.
Now in all fairness, I think we were fooled by the common phenomena of not recognizing something too close to home. You see, we were looking for extraordinary trees. In reality, the moringa trees were the very same trees growing in the yards and near sidewalks in our adjacent neighborhood. Because we had become accustomed to seeing them, we never dreamed they were the “Tree of Life” talked about in the news.
So, I left you dangling on my chat with auntie. Allow me to explain. Once I knew we had the trees, I asked her if she knew what an amazing superfood they provided. She laughed and said; “Well, if you mean, why do we put it in the soup we feed our ravenous, strong fishermen when they return from a morning’s hard work? Then yes.” She elaborated further on how she has been eating moringa since being a child. In her family, it is highly valued.
I leave it to you to decide how far up the chart you want to place this amazing plant. If you want to do some investigating, here is a very interesting link to start with from UC Davis. For the time being, I hope you enjoy this Moringa Barley Minestrone inspired by auntie’s soup story. The moringa leaves are tender and fabulously delicious in it.
Moringa Barley Minestrone Soup
- 1/3 cup uncooked pearled barley
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp. olive oil, optional
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 6 cups well seasoned vegetable broth
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh corn
- 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
- 1 cup coarsely chopped white cabbage
- 2 large sage leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 small bay leaves
- 2 cups fresh moringa leaves, stems removed or substitute chopped fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup broccoli
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add barley, reduce heat and cook 35 minutes or until tender.
- While barley cooks, chop vegetables and gather seasonings.
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add celery, onion and carrot. Saute until onion begins to soften and brown. Alternatively, pan roast vegetables with a couple tablespoons of water.
- Add salt and garlic. Stir and cook 2 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, diced tomatoes with juice, corn, beans, cabbage, sage, thyme, bay leaves and cooked barley with its cooking water. Boil over low heat for 15 minutes.
- Add moringa leaf and cook another 10 minutes. Finally, add broccoli and turn heat off. Let soup sit on burner for 5 minutes.
- Remove bay and sage leaves, and thyme sprigs from soup. Serve with vegan parmesan if desired.