By Dianne Bunis

Spring seems far off with temperatures in the teens and snow flurries. A bowl of homemade soup is soothing and delicious. This low-fat soup is quick and easy to make and can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth.

Mushroom barley soup

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

10 ounces sliced white mushrooms (1 package, wash well in cold water)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 cup quick-cooking barley

1 quart fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Cook onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and mushrooms on medium heat until softened. Add dried herbs, barley, broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until barley is tender. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.