Last winter we fell in love with Barley. It was never an ingredient that I used very much. And because of that, it retained an old-fashioned aura, something my Grandmother would have used in her soups and stews, but less common in today’s kitchen.
Then Jude and I got talking on Twitter about Barley, and she mentioned her amazing soup that combines parsnips and barley. I have to say that this combination is fantastic and much more than the sum of the ingredients. The parsnips melt into the soup and the barley adds creaminess and texture. It is pretty good, I have to say. I tweaked her recipe outline a little, and here it is.
Barley has made a comeback into today’s kitchen. Ottolenghi is not afraid to use it and his books contain several recipes. Other well known cooks have also included it. It has become a staple winter ingredient in our pantry too.
Are you after similar recipes? Try Barley and Root Vegetable Soup or Stew with Umeboshi and Sesame, Adzuki Beans, Barley and Pumpkin Soup, Barley Soup with Vegetables, and Italian Farmhouse Barley and Vegetable Soup.
Parsnip and Barley Soup with Garlic and Sage
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1.5 onions, chopped finely
0.5 cups pearl barley, soaked for 4 hours
a small handful of whole or split red lentils, or brown lentils
2 cloves garlic, chopped
0.5 tspn turmeric
6 or so sage leaves
vegetable stock or water
red chilli paste (optional)
Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan, preferably with a heavy base. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until translucent. Add the chopped parsnips and garlic, and continue to saute until the parsnips soften.
Add the lentils and stir to coat with the olive oil and to roast them off a little.
Now add the barley with its soaking water, the sage leaves, the turmeric powder, and enough stock or water to cover well. Stir in a little red chilli paste.
Simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley is cooked and the parsnips have more or less melted into the soup.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top of the soup in each bowl.
recipe notes and alternatives
Garnish with some chopped fennel fronds.
Use chopped red chilli in place of chilli paste. Adjust the amount to suit your taste.