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Leek and Potato Soups

Leek and Barley Soup

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Leek and Barley Soup

As something to eat barley has rather gone out of fashion: nowadays we tend to concentrate on its liquid, fermented forms. This is a shame as pearl and pot barley are very nutritious, cheap and give a silky texture to soups and stews. This soup is lightly spiced with Allspice, or Jamaica pepper as it used to be called in Scotland, which gives extra warmth on a cold day and the barley is gently filling; it can be made in advance and reheated to return to after a frosty walk.
Time taken 1 hour                 Makes 3 bowls
Leek and Barley soup copy60g pearl or pot barley
2 large or 3 medium leeks (about 500g untrimmed)
1.25
litres stock (poultry or vegetable)
6 allspice berries, crushed or a scant half teaspoon ground allspice
salt and ground black pepper

Put the barley in a sieve and run it under the cold tap to get rid of the “dust” on it which can make it gluey. Tip it into a large saucepan with 1 litre of stock, bring to the boil and cook for 30-40 minutes until the barley is just soft all the way through. (Eat a bit to test it out).
Meanwhile finely chop the leeks: the size into which you cut them will be the size you get in your soup bowl so if they are very large cut them in halves or even quarters before you slice them across the way.
Tip the sliced leeks into the pan with the barley, season with the allspice, salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until the leek pieces are very tender. Check the seasoning and serve very hot with a soft bannock, ideally one made with some barley flour though these can be hard to find.