Lentil Barley Soup

Lentils are shaped like flying saucers, and they come in lots of different colors: regular lentils can be green or brown, and then there are small marbled-green French lentils, black Beluga lentils, and “red” lentils that are actually orange. For this soup, use any kind but the red ones (they break down too much and make the soup porridgy). Lentils are different from most dried beans because they don’t need to be soaked before you cook them. 

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Hands-on time: 15   |    Total time: 210   |    Makes: 11 Servings


Cutting board
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Colander or strainer
Large heavy-bottomed pot
Vegetable peeler
Wooden spoon
Lidded container


1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over for ones that don't look good
4 unit scallions, including greens, sliced
1 unit carrot, scrubbed or peeled and sliced
2 unit celery stalks, including leaves, sliced
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄4 cup raw barley or brown rice
12 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
1 unit (16-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped
unit salt and pepper
unit lemon wedges
1 tablespoon fresh basil, parsley, or cilantro leaves


Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your kitchen gear and ingredients and put them on a clean counter.

  1. Put the lentils, scallions, carrot, celery, oregano, and barley or rice, along with the stock into the pot.
  2. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to high. Bring it to a boil.
  3. Once the pot has boiled, lower the heat to low and simmer it without the lid on for about 2 hours to thicken the soup. Stir it occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking. After about 2 hours the pot should be about 1/4 less full than when you started.
  4. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook the soup for 1 to 2 more hours, stirring it occasionally.
  5. Once the soup has finished cooking, taste it, and add a little bit of salt and pepper if you think it needs them.
  6. Serve the soup right away with lemon wedges and basil, parsley, or cilantro, or store the soup in a lidded container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

“Simmer” means a very gentle boil.