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    Hearty Vegetable Soup

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 cups diced carrots
    2 cups diced onions
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 cup diced bell pepper
    1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
    3/4 cup pearl barley
    1 quart vegetable broth
    1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned)
    1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
    2 cups quartered mushrooms
    2 cups diced zucchini
    Salt and pepper

    Heat a medium heavy-bottom pot over medium heat until hot. Add the oil, then add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, bell pepper, thyme and barley. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown, about 18 minutes.

    Stir in the vegetable broth, chopped tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

    Cook until the barley is al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and zucchini, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and continue to simmer until the mushrooms and zucchini are tender, about 5 minutes.

    Remove from heat, add some water if desired, and season again to taste. Serve.

    Serves 8-10

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