I grew up on this soup, thanks to my mum (Jane) serving this up for a Saturday Lunch or Friday night dinner. My mum is a wonderful cook, who inspired me at a young age to be independent and creative in the kitchen. It was during my teens and this soup inparticular that made me love the squishy, soft texture of pearl barley sitting in a wholesome earthy broth. 

Roll forward 15 years and this soup was recently described as ‘The best birthday present ever’. Not a quote usually associated to my cooking, but it made me smile, so let me explain. Last week I cooked dinner for 13, for my friends husbands 40th not such a surprising surprise birthday Friday night dinner. When deciding the menu, the wife told me that this was one of his favourite soups and so it seemed fitting to put it on the menu and start the meal with this. So I made enough for an army, and there was enough left over for a week, and he ate it every-night until had all gone. Hence the quote.

I hadn’t made this soup before and embarked on some internet research – i did ring my mum as well of course!. In the end, this soup was far easier than i anticipated to make and was incredibly delicious, wholesome and cheap. So here is my jew-ish bean and barley soup. Enjoy!! For those that are reading this and aren’t jew-ish see links below for my recommendation of chicken stock and kosher salami.


  • 200g pearl barley
  • 1 x large carrot, peeled and small dice
  • 1 x large white onion. peeled and diced
  • 3 x sticks of celery, cleaned and small dice
  • 1 x 400g can of cannellini beans, drained and washed
  • 1 – 1/2 litre Chicken stock
  • 2 x porcini mushroom stock cube dissolved into 1/2 litre of water
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 3 Sticks of fresh thyme
  • Small bunch of freshly chopped parsley
  • 200g Kosher salami, finely diced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  • In a large saucepan place the pearl barley and cook using the packet instruction.45-60 minutes.
  • Allow approximately 35g of pearl barley per 80g cooked serving. Wash thoroughly.
  • Place pearl barley in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer gently until cooked. When the barley has swelled up and is soft, it is ready.
  • Drain, rinse and leave to one side.
  • In a small saucepan place the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme.Drizzle the olive oil and sweat the vegetables for 5-10 minutes. Don’t let the vegetables take on any colour.
  • Add in the cooked barley, bean, chicken and porcini mushroom stock until all the ingredients are covered.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes and top up with need be if the barley swells up a little more.
  • Water down if the stock becomes too concentrated. While the soup is simmering, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a small saucepan and fry off the kosher salami until crispy.
  • When cooked, drain and add into the soup. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary and finish with the chopped parsley. Remove the bay leaves and thyme leaves before serving. This soup will last upto 5 days in the fridge but will freeze really well.




One comment

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