This is the time of year when I start making soup. There's something about the alchemy of soup-making that really appeals to me - a few humble ingredients can be transformed into something hearty and warming. I had a bowl of barley soup at a cafe this week and it immediately transported me back to my childhood, with my Mum's veg and barley soup and white buttered bread.
Barley has a lovely, unique flavour and I wanted to make a soup using it, so I googled a recipe (and please forgive me but I found this one on the Daily Fail website). I've made a couple of slight changes though, so I'm going to claim it as my own...
On a cold wintry day, after coming home from walking the hound I can't think of anything better than a big, steaming bowl of homemade soup with a chunk of bread, and not only is this soup delicious but it's also really easy to make. I mean, after chopping the veg there are only three steps before you have a pan of scrumptious soup - could it be any easier?
Winter vegetable and barley soup
1 leek, washed and sliced
1 stick celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced into small pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and diced (also core it if the centre is woody)
1 medium potato, peeled and diced.
2 bay leaves
half tsp dried thyme
50g pearl barley
2pt vegetable or chicken stock
1tsp tomato puree
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Heat the butter in a pan and add all the veg. Cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes until the veg starts to soften.
Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, barley, stock, salt, pepper and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes until the barley is soft.
Remove the bay leaves and stir in the chopped parsley. Season to taste, serve hot and enjoy.