2/3 cup barley
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks fennel, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, diced, juice reserved
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Put the barley in a pot and cover it with 2 1/2 cups of water. Cook the barley until it is tender, then drain it in colander and set it aside in a bowl.
Cook the sausage in a non-stick skillet with 1/4 cup water, when the water turns gray, drain it and cook the sausage until it is nicely browned. Transfer the sausage to a cutting board and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. The slice it into 1/4-inch thick rounds and refrigerate it until needed.
Put the onion, celery, carrot, fennel and pepper in a soup pot. Just cover the ingredients with water. Place a lid on the pot and allow the vegetables to cook over medium heat until they soften.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juice and two cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook the soup for 5 minutes. Stir in the zuchini and parsley and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the sausage and barley to the soup. Cover the pot and cook 2 minutes longer, just until everything is hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
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