It’s getting cold now in Melbourne and there is nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm you up. I rediscovered this recipe when I found some notes from a Healthy Living course I first taught as a new graduate and with a slight tweak I first published it in my recent newsletter (if you like healthy food, you might like to sign up for my free, monthly e-newsletter).
Traditional versions of barley soup use lamb shanks* in lieu of stock but this vegan makeover provides a healthy alternative. The mushrooms and wine give the soup body but as the alcohol evaporates off, it is still a child-friendly meal.
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 cup water
Bring to boil in a saucepan and simmer covered on a low heat for 20-30 minutes until tender. Drain and put aside.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1 – 2 sticks of celery, sliced
200 grams mushrooms, sliced
1 litre of homemade or good quality vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add olive oil and saute the onion over a low heat til translucent and soft. Add the garlic, bay leaf, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Stir for a couple of minutes then add the cooked barley, stock and wine. Simmer on a low heat for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper once cooked.
Garnish with green herbs like dill or parsley. A roughly chopped boiled egg served on top provides a hearty, vegetarian option.
The recipe doubles (or even quadruples) well, limited only by the size of your pot. Batches of soup can be frozen to eat later.
* Feel free to de-veganise this recipe if it gives you pleasure. Brown a lamb shank or two before cooking the onion and return to the pot when adding the barley.
This recipe would also work well in a slow cooker. You can also add more vegetables and halve the stock and call it a stew.