Phipp’s Red Lentil and Barley Soup

Phipps Lentil Barley

A few weeks ago we headed down the California coastline to a tiny town named Pescadero, on a quest for beans. Pescadero, at the midway point between San Francisco and Santa Cruz – is known for a lovely beach, antiques, the historic artichoke soup at Duarte’s Tavern (which apparently Guy Fieri is a fan of), and the burrito joint in the gas station – but if you drive farther down the road you will get to a mystical and magical place named Phipps Country Store, which has both an unusually large selection of beans, and an unusually large selection of birds, small furry animals, livestock and antique stoves.

PhippsFarm Animals

So, truthfully, I drove over an hour just to buy beans. But, oh what beans!!! Phipps brags over 50 types of beans, most of which are grown by them, using no sprays/chemicals. While I was there I picked up some chickpeas, runner beans, soup mixes, and chestnut runners, all glorious stuff.

Phipps Beans

Included in my purchase was one really great package of red lentils and barley – that came with a recipe which I adapted for dinner.

Soup Package

This soup is perfect for the winter weather, and like most soups, tastes absolutely delicious for lunch the next day even if you are eating it cold. My twist is the miso – I use white miso, which adds a really nice depth of flavor to soups without it tasting miso-y or exotic. You can easily find white miso paste in the refrigerator section of any asian market, and I would highly recommend buying it to have on hand. If you can’t find miso, you could substitute bouillon.

Phipp’s Red Lentil Barley Soup
makes 8-9 1 cup servings

1 slice thick cut bacon (I use Niman Ranch)
1 cup (or 1 large) onion, chopped
1 cup (or three stalks) celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, or 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes
3/4 cups red lentils, rinsed
3/4 cup pearl barley
4 cups water
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded swiss cheese, or sharp cheddar (optional)

In a large heavy bottomed soup pot, place the slice of bacon over medium heat, until most of the fat is rendered. Add in the onions, celery and garlic, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the water, chicken broth, miso paste, tomatoes, lentils, barley, rosemary oregano, carrots and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes or until the barley, lentils and carrots are tender. Top with swiss cheese or sharp cheddar if desired. (It goes well with or without!). I made a small batch of salt and olive oil rolls from my refrigerated master dough from “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” and it went perfectly with this.

Nutritional Information: (Per 1 cup serving, not including cheese) Calories: 158, Total Fat: 1.6 g, Sodium: 115.9 mg, Total Carbs: 29.3 g, Dietary Fiber: 6.5 g, Protein: 7.7 g

Phipps Country Store and Farm
2700 Pescadero Road, Pescadero, CA 94060
(650) 879-0787
Hours: 10:00 – 5:00 during winter, Closed Mondays

Farro Salad – a Master Recipe


Farro is an interesting grain with a nice bite, that is well suited to easy summer salads. I use it in recipes that call for wheatberries, green lentils, bulgur or even barley occasionally as a replacement, but I find that I love it best in this salad with tomato, basil, feta, and a balsamic vinaigrette. I’m lucky to find farro at Rainbow Foods in San Francisco, but in some places, farro can be pricey – try shopping for it in stores with bulk bins, at trader joe’s, or even online.

Farro is an Italian word, and when I eat this grain, I find myself transported to Tuscany, sitting in the garden of my imaginary apartment, eating blissfully, drinking a glass of wine, and contemplating nothing but relaxation.

As usual, I use Mark Bittman’s pretty foolproof way of cooking most grains – put one cup of the grain in a small pot, and cover by at least an inch of liquid – bring to a boil, and turn down, cover, and simmer for 30-35 minutes without touching it. Then you can test it – if it’s not done, just add a few more tablespoons of liquid, and leave on the heat for ten more minutes. Unlike rice, don’t worry if there is extra liquid after the cooking time, just drain it.

MASTER RECIPE! Variations: This salad is also a great vehicle for crunchy vegetables – feel free to add fresh corn kernels (you don’t need to cook them!), black beans, bits of chopped red pepper, cucumber, shavings of carrot, chick peas, or even little cubes of summer squash to name just a few! Also, you can punch up the herbs with some fresh parsley or fresh mint (or both) to give it some extra green. No balsamic on hand? Just make a simple lemon vinaigrette with the same proportions of lemon to olive oil.

Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Feta
serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side


– 1 cup farro
–  enough salted water or chicken broth to cover farro by one inch in pot (about 2.5 cups)
– 1 large heirloom tomato, chopped (ripe! uglier the better!)
– about ten leaves of basil, rolled into a cigar shape and chopped
– salt and pepper
– 2 ounces feta cheese
– 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


1. In a medium saucepan, combine the farro and enough water (or chicken stock) to cover farro by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 35 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, add the chopped tomatoes, basil, and feta, and cover with the slightly cooled farro. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Pour into the farro salad, and toss to coat. You can eat this warm, or it can be made in advance and popped in the refrigerator. Just let it come back to room temperature when you want to eat it, and make sure to re-toss it!