1/2 med. onion, chopped 1 celery ribs, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 medium red bell pepper, diced 1 cup pearl barley 2 teaspoons low-sodium instant chicken bouillon granules 2 cups water 1/4 teaspoon thyme 3 teaspoons canola oil 1/4 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper, to taste Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add barley, garlic, red pepper, thyme and cook, stirring, for 30 to 60 seconds. Pour in water (2 cups if using quick-cooking barley, 4 cups if using pearl barley) add oxo and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat until the barley is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes for quick-cooking barley or about 45 minutes for pearl barley. Season with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.