Student Suppers: ‘Winter Cure’ Kale, Barley & Root Vegetable Soup

You know how I said the other day that I was sick of soups? It turns out that I just needed the right soup to come along to make me fall head over heels with them again. I’d been eyeing a recipe for Winter Kale & Barley Soup in the ‘Fuss-Free Suppers’ section of the Waitrose Magazine ‘Harvest’ supplement of seasonal recipes ever since I got it with the January 2014 issue, to the point where I cut it out and stuck it up behind my desk. When I finally got around to trying it it was like a hug in a bowl, the perfect cure to the horrible weather outside (I’m currently on the Isle Of Man in the middle of the Irish sea visiting family. I find it cold and wet here even in the Summer), but flavour and texture wise, I still thought there were a few elements missing, elements I just did not want to simply add some smoky bacon or pancetta to, the usual flavour fix for soups like this. 

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I found the perfect solution was to add copious amounts of chopped flat leaf parsley to the broth just before serving, and to substitute half of the potato ration with swede (though any root vegetables you have to use up will do here) to add a bit more bite, colour and flavour. The root vegetables and the barley also make this soup substantial enough to stand alone without any bread. You can use any type of potato, though different varieties will hold up better than others. I like to use classic baking potatoes. This soup serves 3 to 4 people.

  • 50g (1.8 oz) Pearl Barley 
  • 1.2 Litres (2 Pints) Vegetable Stock (I like to use 1 Kallo Stock Cube here)
  • 2 Leeks, sliced
  • 1 Baking Potato, cubed
  • 350g (1.5 cups) Swede (Rutabaga), cubed 
  • 100g (3.5 oz) Green Kale, shredded 
  • 1 Small Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Bring the stock and the pearl barley to the boil in a large pan (I swear by Le Creuset, I know they are pricy, but one will last you for years) and reduce the heat to simmer, covered for half an hour. Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. Add the potato, swede or other root vegetables and leeks and cook, still covered for another 10 minutes. Add the kale and the parsley, and season to taste. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, check the seasoning and serve. Enjoy! 

What sort of food have you really been craving this time of year? I love that this soup has flavour notes in it that somehow remind me of home and my Mothers cooking, though the recipe itself is totally new and my own, something I can bring to the family table at lunch time and make it seem like I’ve put so much work in, while it has really been quite simple! 

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