I absolutely love this soup and I hope you will too! Just cook your barley as you are preparing the soup, and it should all be ready at the same time. Don't be afraid of the barley because it's delicious! It tastes similar to a big grain of brown rice. You can find it in your grocery store usually by the rice.
Tomato Artichoke Soup with Barley
1/4 c. olive oil
1 lg. Onion, finely chopped
1 TBS. Minced garlic
1 tsp. Dried thyme or basil
15 oz. Can artichoke hearts, drained & coarsely chopped
28 oz. Can chopped tomatoes with juices
4 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 c. sour cream or cream
1-2 c. barley
Boil 2 ½ c. water, then add 1 c. dry barley. Bring to a boil again and then cover and reduce heat to low. It usually takes around 45 minutes to cook. If you have pearled barley, that will only take about 30 minutes. Try to buy regular barley though because it's a whole grain when it has the hull on. Cook until barley is soft. Drain any excess water.
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and sauté the onion for 5 min. until soft. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté another minute. Add the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt & pepper. Cover; simmer for 20 minutes. If you would like, you can use an immersion blender to make a smoother soup. Do this before you add the barley. Add the sour cream and barley, stir well and simmer for 5 more minutes. Then taste for more seasoning.