You may not know this about barley soup, but this is one of those truly authentic Mediterranean dishes that can easily be made vegan without compromising the end result. Plus it is a soup like this that I feel truly celebrates the aroma and flavor of vegetables. (This one calls not only for the standard celery, potatoes, and leek, but also golden beets, a farmer's market staple certainly worthy of your kitchen!) ------------------------------------- Vegetable Barley Soup 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 onion, chopped 2 stalks of celery, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 leek, sliced thin 3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced 5 small golden beets and tops, chopped 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (Yes, I know it's meant for chicken, but all of the ingredients for poultry seasoning itself are vegan!) 2 teaspoons tomato paste 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons pepper 1 - 2 teaspoons chili flakes 1/2 cup pearl barley fresh parsley juice of 1 lemon Water (about 6-8 cups depending on how thick you want your soup) 1. Heat the olive oil in a big soup pot on medium. 2. Add the onion, garlic and tomato paste. Let those cook for about five minutes, and then add the rest of the veggies then add the poultry seasoning, chili flakes and salt and pepper. 3. Let the veggies cook for another five minutes, then add enough water to cover the veggies, and add the barley. 4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and cover and simmer till the veggies are tender and the barley is plump (about 30 minutes). 5. In the last 10 five minutes of cooking add the lemon juice for a wonderfully fresh zing. You may want to add a bit more salt and pepper at his point too. 6. Garnish with parsley and serve piping hot.