www.marissa.co Pearl Barley Soup

Pearl Barley Soup

Economical, nutritious and a flash back to being on a snow capped mountain resort in Italy.  This pearl barley soup is easy to make. A classic vegetable broth suspends the healthy pearl barley and each grain sits proudly amongst the carrot, celery, peppers, potatoes and stock.

I made my soup in a pressure cooker as I decided 45 minutes before the family was coming down to lunch that this would be a perfect lunch to have while our area was covered in a blanket of snow. However, this can easily bubble away on the hob in a pot and will happily sit for as long as you have. Most pearl barley can cook in 30 minutes, do check your packet though as some need over an hour to soften.

We are still in lockdown and now are surrounded with powder snow, the roads and gardens are a carpet of white and I had a flash back to a time we may have been on a snow capped mountain. One of my favourite lunches in a rustic cabin restaurant on the slopes in Italy was this pearl barley soup and I decided to recreate the soup and reminisce over a lunch with my family.

There are a list of benefits to eating Pearl Barley, these are a few: Pearl Barley it is high in fibre, vitamin B, high in flavonoids which protects the heart and brain, potentially good for your cholesterol too.

I did make a huge pot you can easily halve the recipe we each had a bowl (4 of us) and we have two portions of barley risotto for tomorrow lunch.  The stock soaks in as the soup cools so any leftovers will become a rice dish. You can of course add a little more stock the next day to make a few more bowls of soup or enjoy the pearl barley as the getting trendier pearl barley risotto. Maybe mixing it up a little with grated cheese and a little milk or cream for creaminess.

The traditional Italian Zuppa d’orzo – Tyrolean Barley Soup has pancetta fried and added in with the onions at the beginning or sometimes crisped and added as a garnish at the end, this can be omitted and is delicious with and without pancetta.

Italian Slopes Pearl Barley Soup
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
A nutritious and easy soup to enjoy and reminise about being on top of a mountain in a ski resort, sitting in a chalet restaurant and eating this hearty soup.
Recipe type: Soups
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onion, finely diced
  • 4 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 pepper diced (red, green or yellow)
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed into 2cm x 2cm
  • 250g of pearl barley rinsed
  • Stock of your choosing beef, chicken or vegetable to cover the ingredients by ⅔rd
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 10g parsley chopped stalks and leaves
  • To Serve
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Crispy Pancetta See note
  • Black Pepper
  1. In a large pot or pressure cooker, heat the oil and fry the onions, celery, pepper, rosemary and bayleaf until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the pearl barley and stir until the grains are coated in the olive oil.
  3. Add the carrots, potatoes, parsley and stock.
  4. Simmer or pressure cook until the barley is cooked through 35 minutes in the pressure cooker and around 1 hour 15 minutes on the stove top, depending on your brand of pearl barley.
  5. Season with cracked black pepper, crispy pancetta and grated parmesan cheese
Sal: use a stock or cubes that are low in salt if you are planning to add pancetta or parmesan cheese to the soup.

Use a vegan stock.

With Pancetta
Add 80g or as much as you would enjoy of pancetta, fry at the beginning of the cooking process or to make one pot for a family with different eating requirements, cook the pancetta separately and garnish each bowl separately.
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