Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Stew

Soup season has arrived once again! I feel like we've been pretty lucky this year. It's November and the weather has held out pretty well. Hashtag blessed.  For some reason I'm not fearful of the changing of the seasons this year-- to be clear, I say that most years. By February I will want to rip my hair out and open a new credit card to pay for a tropical vacation. (Don't worry mom. I won't actually do that.)

I've been trying to come up with more meatless options for myself. I find this challenging because, well, bacon. And beef. And fried chicken.  And ribs. Don't get me wrong, I will never become a vegetarian (famous last words) but I'm forced to, and just should, cut back on the meat because America kind of scares me right now and locally sourced meat is expensive! I recently paid $15 for two organic, free range, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Yowza! I have found that barley is a much more affordable way to get your protein.  I'm still convincing myself that I like quinoa. I want to like it, you guys. I really do.  I recently discovered a way I don't really notice it. Stay tuned for that! 

Growing up, my family would take at least one long weekend trip to Gatlinburg every year. I know what you're thinking--air brushed t-shirts, fringed and beaded, that read Bubba and Susan 4-ever, kitchsy candle shops (no one can have too many cat shaped candles), the greatest miniature golf courses,  and Christmas stores galore. Me though? I went for the food.  We would always stop at The Apple Barn on our way in (or out) of town.  Not only do they have fantastic apple fritters and apple butter, both their vegetable soup is the best I have ever tasted. It's tomato based and has a little kick to it. On top of that, it's pretty loaded with veggies.  This Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Stew is my ode to the Apple Barn.  I have used as many organic vegetables as possible in the recipe and turns out, it wasn't that difficult to find them.  I had to head to the frozen aisle to find organic corn but it was well worth it.  The only item in this dish that isn't organic?  Green beans.  I'm not a fan of the texture of frozen green beans and my garden didn't produce nearly enough to can.  I did at least, find green beans in a pouch.  I'll call that a win.

This recipe makes a ton of stew.  It freezes beautifully or it will feed every single one of your friends. I love freezing soups and using them for work lunches throughout the next couple of months.  Just freeze them in single serve containers and place in the fridge the night before to thaw.  You're welcome for that little tip.  Now, pull out that crock pot and get to work!

Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Stew

Serves: 100 (not really, but at least 6)

2 (13 ounce) packets green beans
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with the juice
2 cups cubed white potatoes
8 ounces baby carrots, roughly chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 (12 ounce) bag of corn
2 teaspoons salt
1/2-1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (46 ounce) bottle tomato juice
2 cups water
1/2 cup barley

Place all ingredients, except barley, in crock pot.  Cook on high for 6-8 hours.  Add barley at least one hour before serving.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

How easy


  1. The Apple Barn... Yum! We will have to take the kids to Gatlinburg again sometime! The recipe sounds delish.

    1. It's super easy, Wendy! It's the perfect meal for your new kitchen nook!