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Hearty Minestrone Potage

5 to 6 celery ribs with leafy tops
2 cans (16 oz. each) whole tomatoes, crushed
8 c. water
1 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. dried, crushed basil leaves
3/4 tsp. dried, crushed thyme leaves
1 c. barley (uncooked)
1 c. sliced carrots


Cut off leafy tops of celery ribs; tie with a string into a bundle. Thinly slice remaining ribs to make about 2 cups sliced celery; set aside. In a large saucepan place tomatoes, water, onion, salt, basil and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add celery leaf bundle; simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add barley, simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add carrots and reserved sliced celery. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes (add more water if needed). Remove celery leaf bundle just before serving. Makes about 12 cups. This soup freezes well.


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