I started making this a couple of months ago and I now call it the “Magic Pudding” of soups. This recipe makes a large quantity and the leftovers seem to go on forever just by adding more water (or stock) when you reheat some.
I like it quite thick and stew-like, but you can adjust the soupiness to suit your preference with the amount of liquid you add. The amount of stock in this recipe should be the minimum you use.
I live in Moruya, so I use dried Borlotti beans and biodynamic pearl barley from The Rustic Pantry (what an awesome shop!). The biodynamic pearl barley is such a good price, you might as well get the good stuff. I don’t soak the Borlotti beans beforehand. They’ll cook in the soup.
And there’s no need to peel the spuds and carrots you get from LocalTable… they’re grown without industrial chemicals… so just give them a good scrub and leave the skin on.
The best thing about this recipe is you can chuck in any vegetables you like. Depending on what it is, just add it later in the cooking process. So, if you want to use zucchini, for example, add it about 15 minutes before serving.
This is a fantastic vegetarian meal. Very filling and delicious. Kid approval rating 4/5.
Vegetable and pearl barley minestronePrint This
- 2 generous slugs of oil (olive, rice bran, whatever you fancy)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
- 1 leek, sliced
- 2 potatoes (waxy, like Désirée or Dutch Cream), cut into chunks
- 2 large carrots (or more if they're smaller!), cut into chunks
- 3 celery stalks, cut into chunks
- 300gm dried Borlotti beans (more, if you like)
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 generous dollops of tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine (or alternative, see notes)
- at least 2 litres vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you're not a vegetarian)
- 1/2 bunch oregano, no stalks
- 1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onion, garlic and leek and cook for a few minutes until the onion looks soft and translucent. Don’t cook on a high heat! The sizzle should be gentle.
- Add the potato, carrot, celery and beans. Cook for a few more minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften.
- Add the pearl barley and tomato paste. Cook for another few minutes while stirring to get everything nicely coated.
- Add the wine (or substitute) and let that simmer and reduce for a few minutes. Keep stirring so the vegetables don’t stick to the saucepan.
- Add the stock, bring the saucepan to a simmer. Put the lid on and reduce the heat to as low as you can to maintain the simmer. Cook for around an hour and 20 minutes (more if the beans need longer). Stir it once in a while.
- Once the beans are tender, remove from the heat and stir through the herbs.
- Ladle into bowls. Serve with bread, if you like, but the pearl barley and potato are filling enough.
I don't drink, so I keep cheap dry sherry in the house for cooking instead of wine, as it doesn't go off in the pantry. I use about half the quantity of wine in any recipe. I really like it! You can also (apparently) substitute a half-half mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, but I haven't tried that yet.