#stillnotfollowingdirections (French Fridays with Dorie: Vegetable Barley Soup with a Little Taste of India)

I am not sure how I am going to pull myself together enough to write this week's post...

In case you hadn't heard, Gwyneth and her rocker hub Chris Martin are no longer an item.

I know, I know.

Take a moment to digest it all - it took me a couple of days.

Now that we are recovered from that, here is another item to ponder.

The Dude and I were at a diner the other night. I stepped into the washroom to wash my hands - there had been recent cat petting. Cat petting and food eating do not go together in my world...

Anyway, hands were cleaned. Dinner arrived. As I was starting to dive in to my hot turkey sandwich and french fries (with gravy on the fries, of course - one thing I am, is predictable in my diner food ordering practices), I kept smelling coconut. Coconut smells and hot turkey sandwiches just don't jive with each other. I finally figured out that the bathroom soap was the source of the coconut intrusion.

This caused me to wonder... do restaurants consider soap/ food odor interactions when choosing bathroom supplies? Did someone think they were doing a good thing by picking a nice smelling soap, not realizing that it was a total contradiction to the diner experience?  This has been bothering me for a few days. I am sure there are more meaningful food topics to worry about - like the presence of GMO's in our food sources, the ethical treatment of animals, or even guerrilla farming practices. Somehow, my mind can't focus on those things - I am still focused on that darn coconut soap.

In light of all these "things" that were clouding up my universe, I am not sure how I was even able to being myself make this week's FFwD soup recipe - oh wait, I didn't... Well, I did, but not really.

My sense of direction following was even more skewed than normal. I was also shy a few vegetables - having roasted most of the contents of the bin for Saturday night's dinner.

First of all, I was cooking for one, so I scaled the recipe back considerably. I did include vegetable (noodles). And there was barley. The taste of India was limited to freshly grated turmeric and ginger. From start to finish, the whole thing took me about a half hour - which earns gold star points in my book.

Vegetable Barley Soup with Vegetable Noodles (Taste of India, Optional)
Inspired by Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table

Olive oil
One medium shallot, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp grated fresh turmeric
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 cups chicken stock
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/3 cup pearled barley
1/3 celery root, spiralized and cut into 8" - 12" lengths (~3/4 - 1 cup)
1/2 small zucchini, sprialized and cut into 8" - 12" lengths (~1/2 - 3/4 cup)

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped shallots and saute until tender (~3-5 minutes). Add garlic, thyme, turmeric and ginger and saute another minute or two, until they start to become aromatic. Add chicken stock and lime leaves and bring to a gentle simmer. Add pearled barley and simmer until barley is tender, but still has a little bit of bite left to it. (15-20 minutes, or longer depending on your brand). Add the celery root noodles and simmer another 5 minutes, or until the celery root is just tender. Stir in the zucchini noodles.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Makes two portions.

On another note, I finally finished reading The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). I really enjoyed this one. Next up is The Secret History (Donna Tartt) - I enjoyed The Goldfinch, so I have high hopes for her earlier work.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie. The original recipe for Vegetable Barley Soup with a Little Taste of India can be found here - along with an article that fabulously spotlights several Doristas. (P.S. I was very glad to hear that Dorie duly noted our universal aversion to raisins and reacted accordingly. This. Is just one of the many reasons why we love her.)


  1. LOL - glad you recovered enough to make this soup. Smelly soaps and food are gross together.

  2. This soup is genius Cher :) And I SO need a spiralizer!!!

  3. I'm with Mardi...I need a spiralizer! Maybe I could get Bill to eat zucchini if I disguise them as noodles! At least I knew in advance I was cooking for one, too...your soup looks wonderful!

  4. Love your soup changes! The Secret History is even better than The Goldfinch in my opinion. I can't wait to hear your opinion. Sorry about your snow:( And Gwyneth:( And coconut soap!

  5. Interesting take on the soup. I'll bet the celery root really added great flavor
    to it. Have a great weekend.

  6. "Universal aversion"? "Universal"? Hmm.... I was all on your side with your soap rant as I too can't stand when restaurants do this. I even know of one local place that has oddly scented candles on each table! But there is no such thing as a universal aversion to raisins! Just for that you get to hear me gloat for a few more weeks about our nasty 68 degree weather.

    1. In my mind... it's Universal. Because, I really can't understand how anyone likes raisins.

  7. Hi Cher! I would LOVE this soup--you always remind me that I have way too many cookbooks that are often ignored. Will be revisiting my FFwD menu again. The Secret History was one of my all time faves. I ordered the Goldfinch and have kept it waiting for a good sit down--it seemed a dark weather sort of book on first blush. I just finished Penelope Lively's Dancing Fish and Ammonites--written in her 80s, reflections on life--terrific memoir if you'd like a change. I'm somewhat obsessed with it, "life and aging", that is. (It took me a bit to get over Gwyneth's heartbreak, too--what a shock!)

  8. Love your version of this soup, Cher! I have to get one of those spiralizers…I had never heard of or seen one before. Which one would you recommend?
    We missed the last snow..sorry it hit you! I’m so ready for spring!
    The Book Thief on my reading list...I’m so looking forward to it!
    Have a great weekend and don’t stress out too much over Gwyneth…she’ll be just fine!

    1. Kathy - I have the Paderno World Cuisine (Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer). They sell them on Amazon and in Williams & Sonoma.

  9. Love your version of the soup. Great post!

  10. I'm usually so focused on gorging that I've never been focused on the soap smell of my hands. Maybe now I'll notice. Thanks a lot, Cher. Thanks a lot.

    I started The Goldfinch, and love it so far, though I've been distracted by Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth, which is also very good. I'll return to Tartt when I've finished McEwan. I've read The Secret History, and it's excellent. Enjoy!

  11. I LOVE your vegetable noodles! And, this soup would have gone with coconut hand soap. The Secret History is as good as The Goldfinch, but skip her other book, My Little Friend(?) Loved The Book Thief too. Wishing I'd thought ahead to see if you could come to Boston this weekend for our mini-Dorista meetup tonight. We'll be missing you.

  12. I keep meaning to pick up a spiralizer, especially now that summer miiiight arrive ... someday. I'm about a third of the way through The Book Thief. Secret History was very good (although I was nearer to college age when I read it ... sometimes reading within your peer group is more enjoyable).

  13. Do you remember when we went to the IFBC, they ask that we not wear perfume or lotions because we were dealing with food and with other tasters? I know you were being a bit humorous (as humorous as you can be as you enter the 6th month of full-on winter weather), but your complaint is legitimate. I wish you had had a wipe. That might have helped. Love your celery root noodles.

  14. Forget about Apple's mother, the smelly soaps and vegetable noodle maker.... KAFIR LIME LEAVES! You caught my attention there! Awesome flavor you got there!

  15. Poor Cher, subjected to coconut hand soap. That does seem unfortunate. There's such a thing as kaffir lime leaves? And fresh turmeric (as opposed to the kind that comes out of a spice bottle)?

  16. Love the veggie noodles and I agree with Emily - the kaffir lime leaves were an inspired addition.

    As for Gwyneth, I'm still mad at the Academy for giving her father...er her... Cate's Oscar.

  17. Cher, the spiralizer is quite popular around here - vegetable noodles and all...and they always look fabulous. Your soup looks great with your changes and I am quite sure that my kids would have loved the look of your soup better than mine.
    As far as the soap smells are oconcerned - I could not agree with you more, I am always looking for a neutral soap for my kitchen as I do not appreciate the soap smells interfering with foods I am preparing either...
    Have a great week!

  18. Your version of the soup with the vegetable noodles looks and sounds so lovely... now I want to get a spiralizer..

    and yes now on I'll always be reminded of you whenever there is coconut hand soup at a restaurant ;)

  19. Zucchini would make an excellent addition to this soup. What a great idea! Next time. The Book Thief was great, but I read it at the same time as Sarah's Key and I was a wreck after both. Best to read something lighter. I will look at those other titles you mentioned- always looking for new books! On another note, I think cucumber melon might be a better soap scent than coconut- unless you are drinking pina coladas.

  20. You always change the soup for the better, what a wonderful idea :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  21. I didn't know about Gwyneth and Chris, now I need a moment :-) Anyway, I mistakenly bought a peppermint hand soap for my kitchen, and it bothers me every time I notice the scent. If restaurants don't take these things into consideration, they certainly should.


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