Winter vegetables, those starchy, hardy, rooty things that stare at you from the vegetable isle, can be dull or delicious. This soup is filling and soothing, a vegetable hug. It’s also thick and chunky: If it was in the super-market, it would be called a ‘meal soup’, a soup that makes a meal. It’s a fair description. You don’t need anything else with this.
It’s a white soup, a creamy yet cream-less soup. The whiteness comes from flour and milk. You can use any type of milk for this recipe, although a neutral or somewhat milk-tasting one, is best. If you’re using soya milk, you might want to add a couple of pinches of bicarbonate of soda to the vegetables. Soya milk can curdle if the the liquid is acidic, and heat speeds up the process. The curds don’t taste bad but they look unattractive. Don’t worry, the soup is still edible, and a pinch of bicarb will stop them from growing larger.
Serves: 4. Prep: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.
Stores: In the fridge, 2-3 days. In the freezer, up to 3 months.
- Chopping board
- Large pot (stock pot, pasta pot, even a soup pot)
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring jug
- Teacup or cup measure
- Tablespoon or tablespoon measure
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, or leek
- 0.25 cup barley (~50 grams)
- 2 large potatoes (~500 grams)
- 2 medium carrots (~200 grams)
- 1 large parsnip (~150 grams)
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 2 tablespoon stock powder, or 1-2 veggie cubes
- 700 ml hot water
- 300 ml milk (optional – can be swapped for water)
- Heat the oil in the pot.
- Finely cube the onion, or slice the leek.
- Cook in the oil until soft.
- Meanwhile, chop the potatoes, carrots and parsnip into roughly centimetre cubes. Add to the onions as you go.
- Cook for a few minutes. A little bit of browning on the potatoes adds nice flavour.
- Boil the kettle and use boiled water to make up half a litre of stock.
- Add the barley and flour and stir thoroughly. The flour reacts with the oil and moisture to make a roux which helps thicken the soup.
- Add a quarter of litre of stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
- Add another quarter of litre, stir and let cook at medium heat (simmer, don’t boil).
- Leave for 15-20 minutes. (Don’t forget about it completely – it needs to be stirred every now and again.)
- Add the remaining liquid. Leave until the barley is completely cooked. It should resist the teeth but not be crunchy. If you cut a grain in half (a little fiddly, but sometimes useful) you should be able to see that it is cooked all the way through.
- Chowder: leave out the barley, carrots and parsnip and replace with a tin of sweetcorn.
- Cream of vegetable: Leave out the barley and whiz the soup with a stick blender for a smooth soup. You’ll probably want to thin it a little further so that it is silky, not gloopy.