Slovenia is known for her soups – each bite captures the taste of the earth and sky, rolling hills and grand mountains. They are the answer to frosted windows, the worst sort of bone-chill, and that scratchy feeling in the back of the throat.
Slovenian soup is the sunshine to your snowy day.
Today, in particular, we explore Ričet, one of the more beloved soups found throughout Slovenia.
She’s made with barley, a soft, earthy grain that reminds me faintly of pasta, but chewier and more wholesome. When paired with beans, carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic, an entire meal is made. A slice of rye bread on the side would be grand.
While Ričet could certainly be made vegan, traditional Slovenian soups would include sausage or, as I have done, bacon. This adds another layer of complexity, making it all the more likely that I’ll be reaching for a bowl of Ričet when the winter snows float down.
Makes 3+ quarts
1 1/4 cup barley
1 1/4 cup dried pinto beans
4 large carrots, chopped
2 yukon gold potatoes, cubed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
a few slices of bacon (or sausage), diced
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
minced parsley, to taste
Soak the barley and pinto beans overnight, making sure to cover the beans by about 2 inches of water.
Meanwhile, dream a little dream of spring, so real you can almost smell the daffodils.
The next day, wake up with a smile.
Drain the barley and beans and add them to a large pot. Cover with about 6 cups of water and simmer for an hour (covered).
Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients… chop the carrots, tomato, and onion, dice the bacon, mince the garlic, chop the onion. Add all this fresh goodness to the pot. Toss in the bay leaves and bacon/sausage, too.
Cook the soup for another hour, or until all ingredients are tender. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with minced parsley (or whole sprigs, as I have done)
This is about as simple as it gets, folks and it’s one of my favorite soups thus far.
Enjoy with a side of ‘quaint town’ and ‘joyful sunshine.’
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