Ahhh Friday night.  A pie in the oven, rain down outside, wind howling through the trees, no central heat, and three cats pumped up on catnip.

Right now I’m making the poet a s’mlove pie for tomorrow’s celebration–he’s taking his final comprehensive exam for his master’s program at 9 am!  I know he’s going to do fine, although he’s probably wide awake and unable to sleep for fear of forgetting Elizabeth Bishop or Robert Frost or W.B. Yeats.  I don’t envy him.  And nothing says “I think you’re the best” like a fresh uber chocolatey, uber peanut buttery pie!

As I mentioned, it’s raining and 50 degrees outside (and I just rode my bike and to and from work in it, ick). Simply, it’s one of those days that calls for soup.  Good, thick, hearty, warm soup.

Deb’s (at Smitten Kitchen) Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup seemed just the thing.  Except, wait, it calls for “two big, meaty short ribs.”  Ew.  So not vegan.  So I thought about making it with only vegetables.  Except veggies just weren’t cutting it.  I needed texture, damnit!  Then I remembered the “Better than Beef” (or whatever corny name it’s called) TVP chunks that I can get at the local co-op.  Ba-da-bing!

Thus, I present to you my version of “Beef,” Leek, and Barley Soup.  It was just as easy as promised and so much more satisfying sans dead cow.  The poet, a raging omnivore loved it and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.  Oh hey, and speaking of bread, see that tasty, tempting slice in the photo?  I’ll post that recipe next.

“Beef,” Barley, and Leek Soup

Rehydrate 1 cup of “beef” TVP chunks.  After they’re rehydrated, pour them into a big soup pot (mine is 5 quarts…I think?  It’s huge).

Add 1/2 cup of barley, three big cloves of garlic shopped up, two chopped onions, three chopped carrots, 1 cup frozen lima beans, and three leeks cut lengthwise and then into segments–use both the white and the green parts.

Add eight cups of vegetable stock and let it simmer on the back burner for at least three hours.

Serve with a thick slice of fresh baked bread!