I don't know about you, but as soon as the temperature starts to turn a little colder and I can see the first few leaves start to turn color on the trees—I don't care if it's a hot second after Labor Day, or if the pumpkins aren't ready and the fall solstice hasn't arrived yet (it's September 22nd this year, FYI)—it's my shameless cue to start getting into "fall mode."
Out come the cozy, oversized hoodies and sweaters to wear with jeans; the Halloween decorations start to unearth themselves from boxes in the basement, ready to be hung sometime towards the end of September; and soup or stew gets put back on my dinner menu at least once a week. As a matter of fact, today is perfect fall weather where I am, too; it's currently around 62° F and it may even drop below 50° F tonight. Talk about the perfect weather for baking and soup making.
This Middle Eastern-inspired stew has been one of my favorite vegetarian recipes for a while, probably ever since I started a vegetarian (or pescatarian, mostly) diet in high school. I continued being vegetarian/pescatarian up until about two years ago, when I started incorporating chicken and other lean meats back into my diet. Regardless of your food preferences, though, this is a recipe that I have found both meat eaters and veggies enjoy all the same.
Soup is often my go-to lunch since it's quick and easy to grab from a store or a work cafeteria. I always have a stockpile of some kind of soup or chili in the freezer for when I don't feel like cooking when I get home in the evening, too, which I thaw overnight in the refrigerator or, if I don't remember, quickly thaw in the microwave.
I make and eat soup year-round, even during the summer, but nothing beats the magical feeling of eating hot soup on a cold day. It just warms up your body and makes you feel instantly better—at least, for me it does.
This recipe for mushroom barley soup is one of my favorites to make in the crock pot and let cook overnight for dinner the next day. It is healthy and doesn't require a lot of ingredients, making it a perfect recipe for using up pantry and fridge staples.