Friendship Soup

I think that if this soup were a statue, it’s plaque would read, Give me your vegetarians, your vegans, your huddled lactose intolerant friends, yearning to eat well… Overly dramatic? Probably. But seriously guys, this soup is a soup for everyone, even the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

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Friendship Soup has been a family staple for as long as I can remember, written on a small index card in my grandmother’s handwriting. But a few years ago, my sister became a vegetarian, and no longer could she eat the recipe as written, with a pound of hamburger and beef bouillon. So, I set out to make a vegetarian version, and realized in the process that it’s also dairy-free, and if you switch out the pearl barley for more lentils, gluten-free. You’re welcome, special dietary needs world!

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While following a recipe is generally a good idea for making food taste good, I think it’s also about the experience. So, today, I’d like to offer you some pro-tips on how to make Friendship Soup taste as utterly scrumptious as possible.

The first thing you need to do is make yourself look as unfit for the general public as possible. Do not wear real pants. Pull out your leggings, your yoga pants, your rattiest sweatpants, because we are getting comfortable. I can personally recommend the leggings as pants and oversized sweater combo, it’s excellent.

Now, you have a choice. You can either draw inspiration from the name of this recipe and invite some friends over, or you can go solo and have leftovers for days. These are both perfectly wonderful, valid options.

If you go the friends route, this is not the time to invite over someone you’re not worried about impressing. This is the time to invite your friend who has seen you ugly cry at Les Mis and still likes you, mostly because she was ugly crying right next to you. Seriously, your outfit ideally will not be presentable to anyone else.

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You can also go the solo route. For this, I suggest hunkering down with an episode of American Horror Story. Sure, you can watch something funny, because Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock or Arrested Development is always a solid decision. But I think a American Horror Story is perfect for this, because you every time you start feeling sad or scared for the characters on the show, you can look down and remember that, oh yeah, you are cuddled up in your bed eating delicious soup. Nothing can get you down.

Friendship Soup

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 28oz. can diced tomatoes, not drained (I used two 14.5 oz cans and the world did not end)

6-8 cups vegetable stock, depending on how much broth you prefer

½ cup dry split peas

¼ cup pearl barley

½ cups dry lentils

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

½ cup uncooked long grain rice

½ cup quinoa

Salt to taste

Heat the oil on medium in a large pot. Sauté the onions and garlic in oil until soft and slightly browned. Add the tomatoes and broth, then the dry ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or more, until the grains are cooked through. I added salt throughout the cooking time. You can also keep the soup on low in a crockpot all day.