Filled with grains and vegetables, this comforting soup has a rustic touch – thanks to the herbs tied on a string.






Skill level

Average: 2.7 (5 votes)


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 300 g small portobello or Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 6 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley stalks
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 200 g (1 cup) pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1.25 litres (5 cups) chicken stock
  • Crusty bread, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking the barley overnight in water will reduce the cooking time.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.

Add the leek and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until starting to soften.

Add the mushrooms. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until they start to release their juices. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for a further minute.

Tie the thyme and parsley together with kitchen string. Add to the pan with the carrot, celery, barley and stock.

Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 35–40 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Add a little boiling water to adjust the consistency to your liking.

Season to taste with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.

Remove the tied herb bundle, stripping the thyme leaves from the stalks and stirring them into the soup. Serve with crusty bread.

This recipe is from Low & Slow (Smith Street Books).