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6 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup onion, chopped

5 cups celery, sliced and divided

1/2 cup celery leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, crushed

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup pearl barley

salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, bring broth to a boil.  Add onion, 3 cups celery, celery leaves, thyme and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf. Puree soup in a blender in two batches.  Return puree to the soup pot and bring to a boil.  Add the barley and simmer covered until barley is almost tender, about 25 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 cups celery.  Simmer covered until celery and barley are tender, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper if desired.