Pearl barley soup

I don’t really love soup. That is the polite way of phrasing it. Or how my daughter would. The truth is, I just don’t like it. Soup, to me, is a poor excuse for proper food. It leaves me hungry even when I am full. That is, unless it is packed full of flavours and really thick, almost to the point that you can stand a spoon in it. This is that kind of soup. Some would not even call it a soup, but rather a take on risotto. It really is not, but that is another matter not to be discussed right now. The recipe serves 2 as usual.

2 shallots

1 stick of celery

3 potatoes (waxy)

a thick disc of butternut squash

100g pearl barley

800-1000ml stock (veal, chicken or veg)

1 bay leaf

a few sprigs of lemon thyme

a handfull of parsley

salt, pepper, coriander, nutmeg

olive oil

parmesan cheese (optional)

Finely dice the shallots, then gently fry in a glug of oil over low heat with the bay leaf and thyme for some 15 minutes.

While the onion is frying, dice the celery, butternut squash and potatoes into small cubes (1x1cm). Add to the onion mix after the 15 minutes are up, and fry for a further 5.

Season with ground coriander, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the pearl barley and mix well, then pour in the stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, and leave for 25-30 minutes (lid on). You want the pearl barley to retain some of its bite, but it should not be hard (i.e. al dente is what you are looking for).

Spoon into bowls, grate over some parmesan, and sprinkle w chopped parsley. Add a grind of pepper and a bit of olive oil if you like. No bread needed, the soup is hearty enough as it is.

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