Barley Lentil Kale Soup

Bowl of barley lentil soup, with the camera zooming in on a spoonful of soup

I was sitting in my Monday evening class, working on a group exercise. The professor walked around the class, answering questions. One student approached the professor with her laptop. Seconds later, the professor made a startling announcement. Tuesday classes were cancelled. Collective gasps of disbelief and sighs of relief rang out across the classroom. The University of Michigan had not cancelled classes since 1978. It had been 36 years since students at the University had enjoyed a snow day. Or in this case, a cold day. The weather was projected to be -30 F with wind chill.

How did I pass my cold day? By sleeping in, of course. And the rest of the day? Like a good student, I spent the majority of my day catching on readings, assignments and email. While in my pajamas. Drinking tea. All day.

At some point during the day, I ate. A few times, actually. I even cooked a fabulous “cold” day soup — full of lentils, barley, chickpeas, and kale.  I had just enough foresight to soak the barley in water for about 4 -5 hours before embarking on a culinary adventure of soup creation. This soup is easy to make. It requires chopping onions, and kale, if you have it fresh. Other than that, it’s just few minutes of sautéeing and an hour of boiling. That’s it. Voila. This hearty and filling soup is ready to eat.


1/2 cup green lentils

1/2 cup chickpeas

1/2 cup barley

4 cups of stock OR water with 1-2 bouillon cubes

1 cup chopped kale (fresh or frozen)

1/2 onion, diced

1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 teaspoon citric acid


*note: soaking the barley for a few hours will help the soup cook quicker 

Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Add the diced onion and kale. Sprinkle with salt and cook until tender. (If the kale is fresh, cook it with the onion. If the kale is frozen, wait until the onions are cooked before adding it. The water from the frozen kale will prevent the onions from sauteeing.)

Once the kale and onions are tender, add the lentils, chickpeas, barley, and stock. Let the soup boil for about an hour on medium to high heat. Check on the soup periodically, adding more water and/or stock as necessary. When the grains have reached their desired tenderness, add salt, pepper, and lemon to taste. If you’d like to add more flavor, try adding some cumin.

Bowl of barley lentil soup, photo taken from above angle

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