Prepare all of your vegetables by cutting them and setting each one aside.
Over medium heat, heat the olive oil in a tall soup pot. When warm, sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel until the veggies start to soften and the onions start to turn translucent. Add the garlic and stir.
After about a minute, add the dried basil and oregano, salt and pepper, and tomato paste. Stir to coat the vegetables.
Pour in the diced tomatoes, beans, and barley. Stir again and let it simmer for a minute.
Pour in the vegetable broth and water. Then, add the bay leaf and fresh thyme leaves. Stir to mix it all together.
Cover the soup and allow it to simmer for about 40 minutes. If the barley is still hard, boil a few more minutes. If the liquid evaporates quickly, slowly add more water or broth.
When the soup is done cooking, remove the bay leaf and rip quarter sized pieces of kale from it’s stems and add it to the soup. Stir to incorporate the kale and remove the soup from the heat. The kale will soften in the hot soup.
Serve with crusty bread or homemade garlic bread.