Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 1½ hours
100 g (3½ oz) pearl barley
2 tablespoons extra virgin rapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
750 g (1½ lb) mixed root vegetables such as parsnips, swede, turnips, carrots
and potatoes, evenly diced
1.2 litres (2 pints) beef or vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper
Read also: VEGETABLE BROTH & SEA BASS
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and pour in the pearl barley. Cook at a gentle simmer for 1 hour. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the onion, leeks and celery and fry gently for 8–10 minutes or until softened but not coloured. Add the root vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Pour in the stock, add the bouquet garni and bring to the boil. Stir in the pearl barley, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25–30 minutes or until the vegetables and pearl barley are tender. Remove the bouquet garni and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with herby bread, if liked.
For creamy vegetable soup, make the broth as above, then use a hand-held blender to blend the soup until smooth, adding extra stock if necessary. Stir in 3 tablespoons half-fat crème fraîche, scatter with thyme leaves and serve with toasted herby bread croutons.