1 pound Asparagus stalks (not tips)
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 Leeks, white parts plus an inch of green, well rinsed and cut into thin half-moon slices
1 cup diced Carrots
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup Barley
1 medium Zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped Swiss chard or any dark leafy green of your choice
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Parsley leaves
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Peel the Asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler to remove their tough fibrous skin. Cut the cleaned stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Heat the Olive oil in a medium soup pot. Over medium-low heat, cook the Asparagus, Leeks, and Carrots, without browning, for about 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Pour in 6 cups of the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the Barley and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the grain is tender. When ready to serve, add the remaining chicken broth, bring to a simmer and add the Zucchini, Swiss chard, and Parsley, and simmer for 4 or 5 minutes, until the Zucchini is cooked through. Serve in warm bowls with the cheese sprinkled on top.