I enjoy soups of all consistencies. But in the winter, I find that a thin soup (I’m talking chicken broth or strained tomato soup) needs an accompaniment, a vehicle to help it fill you up and warm you to the core like a hunk of good bread or a slice of melty cheese on toast. I love having something to mop the soup up with, but it does make for more time spent in the kitchen on my lunch breaks, when I’d rather be eating or reading or appreciating the rays of sunshine lighting up the garden. A chunky soup, however, is a true one-pot-wonder. No additions or extra faffing needed.
This chunky vegetable and pearl barley soup has many merits. It’s a great way of clearing out your fridge and pantry. It can be a vehicle for many different herbs and spices. It’s also rather tasty and filling to boot. If you use more pearl barley (or less liquid), you can even make it into a risotto. Multitasking at its best.
Chunky vegetable and pearl barley soup – 3/4 portions
1 cup pearl barley (soaked in water overnight and rinsed – this reduces the cooking time significantly)
A selection of vegetables, chopped (I used 1 onion, 3 carrots, 2 leeks)
Herbs and spices (I used sage, parsley and oregano…my ideal combination would be bay leaf, thyme and marjoram)
Salt and pepper
Oil (I used olive oil)
1 litre of stock (I used chicken but vegetable is perfect too)
Heat 2 tablespoons of your chosen oil in a saucepan on a medium heat.
Roughly chop your onion, carrots and leeks (and any other vegetables) while the oil heats up. Also squash the garlic and remove the papery skin (chop if you don’t want large chunks of garlic in your soup).
Put the onions and garlic into the saucepan and soften for 5-10 minutes. Then add the other vegetables to the saucepan for 5 minutes. Stir, and prepare your stock.
Add your herbs and spices – I added ½ teaspoon of sage, oregano and parsley – and pour the stock into the saucepan. The stock should easily cover all the ingredients. Reduce to a low heat and simmer, with the lid on, for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, stir the soup. If the liquid has gone down considerably, add a little more. Then cook for a further 15 minutes. By this time the vegetables should be soft but not mushy and the pearl barley grains should be larger and al dente. If this is not the case, cook for a further 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and add some fresh herbs if so desired.
I hope you enjoy this healthy filling winter soup!
Do you prefer thin or chunky soups? Do you ever cook with pearl barley?