Barley soup (zuppa di orzo)


  • 400 grams Eden Valley Barley, soaked in hot water for 45 minutes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head celery, tender stalks and young leaves separated and roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped, green herb parts chopped separately
  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small dried red chillies, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Add the celery and onion. Cook together until they begin to soften.
  3. Add the fennel bulb and brown onion and fry, stirring until they begin to caramelise (about 15 minutes).
  4. Add the garlic and chilli, then after 1 minute, the herbs, celery leaves and tomatoes. Stir to combine and slightly reduce.
  5. Add half the barley. Allow to absorb flavours, then add half of the chicken stock.
  6. Reduce the heat and cook until the barley is tender (about 40 to 50 minutes).
  7. Cook the remaining barley in the rest of the stock for 40 to 50 minutes. Puree in a food processor and add to the soup.
  8. Season and serve with olive oil. This soup should be thick and creamy.

Credits: River Cafe Cook Book 2