Tuscan Barley Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 sweet or spicy turkey sausage links, casings removed
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 2 medium parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into1/2-inch slices
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
- One 12-ounce bunch Swiss or Rainbow chard, center stem removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind, optional
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
In a 5-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked sausage and reserve.
Add the barley and cook stirring constantly until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, parsnips, zucchini, fennel, leeks, chard, cheese rind if using, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the barley is tender, about 35 minutes.
Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaf, and discard. Season the soup with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.