Beef, Beans, Butternut Squash, and Barley Soup
My favorite soup growing up was Campbell's Vegetable Beef, and it wasn't until I was an adult that I learned that those little pillows of starch were barley. It's no surprise that I did not grow up with barley as a grain--not only did my dad insist my mom make a pot of rice every night (even if she was serving spaghetti (or pah'segetti, if you get my meaning). The main reason that we never had barley is that nearly no one does. According to the national barley folks, only 2% to 4% of US production goes for food! Animal feed and malting for beer make up the balance.
We've been enjoying it more lately, both as a side dish (chewy and satisfying), and sometimes as the starch in soups and stews as seen here. One thing to know is that cooking times will vary quite a bit depending if you purchase the pearlized version or not. This recipe assumes you've purchased pearlized.