Get lost in the broths...

My birthday lies almost annoyingly close to Christmas, but luckily I have sweet friends who (most of them anyway) understand that wrapping gifts in festive wrapping paper or writing a birthday message in a Christmas card makes for a very sad birthday girl, seriously. If it's disguised as a Christmas present it would probably be banished under the tree, exiled until Christmas day. Luckily, I do not even have awkward birthday moments any more since my lovely mother gave up trying to squeeze ideas for presents out of me by the time I was 18.  Instead I get lovely money and the benefit or having a birthday close to the BIG day is I get both lots in one go... I know, what's a girl to do? Go crazy on clothes? Buy ridiculous shoes? Splurge on something pretty and shiny? Or wonder into Anthropologie one day in January looking for clothes to splurge said money on, but instead getting "lost" in the homeware department and finds herself almost skipping out of the store with her shiny new purchases of... bowls. Yes bowls; but amazing bowls.  So amazing, I had to keep myself from buying one of every colour.  I digress though, there is a point to me mentioning my mad homeware obsession, and that is that they have inspired me to brave making soups again, but not the smooth ones I usually end up cooking up, but interesting thin soups holding delicate chunks of vegetables and grains to make hot, toasty meals perfect for the current climes where the chill is gone but a wet coolness has replaced it, calling for the need for warmth but without the heaviness of winter stodge.

One soup is my all time favourite so it amazes me that I've only made this twice, but it hails from my beloved Cornucopia at Home cookbook and is just love in a bowl.  The hearty broth is cheered up by shreds of deep green kale and cubes of bright orange carrot peeking thorough. The one thing I must say though - and this applies to all broths - is that the stock must be flavourful, as it unites all the components together. I found that this soup tasted better the next day as all the flavours mingled and developed. Next time, some miso or dried shitake mushrooms would make a wonderful base to dish.

The other dish was more accidental, but definitely one I will be making again.  As per usual, inspiration came from a poke around in the fridge to find food which wanted eating followed by a brief exploration of my store cupboard. The Barley, mushrooms and parsnip all pointed to a rather grey soup, so some carrots went in to brighten this meal up.  Some 45 minutes later and I'm happily curled up with my bowl of goodness.  Bon appetit!

Kale and Barley Broth
(Serves 4)

adapted from Cornucopia at Home by Eleanor Heffernan

  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Sticks of Celery
  • 1 Leek
  • 5 Bay Leaves
  • 10 Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 2.5L Water
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 100g Barley
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Stick of Celery
  • 1 Leek
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 200g Kale, sliced
  • 75g Dill
  • 2L Water
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Cook the barley with 2 bay leaves in plenty of water, bring to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until tender with a bite.
  2. Roughly chop the vegetables for the stock and heat some oil in a large pan. Fry gently for 10-15 minutes covered. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme and water, bring to the boil then gently simmer for 1 hour.
  3.  Strain the stock thoroughly when ready, to get about 2L.
  4. Blanch the kale for 3 minutes or until al dente, quench in cold water and set aside.
  5. To make the soup: Cover the base of a large pan with olive oil and heat. Slice the garlic finely and chop all the vegetables neatly into tiny cubes and sweat gently for 10 minutes, covered.
  6. Add the stock, bring to the boil then simmer for another 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.
  7. Blend a ladle full of soup with the dill then return to the pan. Add the strained barley and kale, season and serve hot with bread.  
Parsnip and Barley Broth
(Serves 1-2)

  • 15g Butter
  • 1/4 Large Onion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1cm Thin Knob of Ginger, grated
  • 1 Stick of Celery, sliced
  • 1 Medium Thin Carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 Parsnip, cubed into 1cm cubes
  • 2-3 Chestnut Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/4C/50g Barley
  1. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook gently, covered for 5 minutes then add everything but the barley and cook covered for another 5-10 minutes. 
  2. Add the barley and mix to coat then add enough hot water to cover everything twice over (about 700ml), season and bring to the boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the barley is soft with a bite to it. Top up with water if necessary.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


  1. this looks delicious! and easy enough to make! i may have to try it out. :)

  2. Thank you Anna, it's the best kind of dish, where things go in a pot then I'm free to forget about it and go do something else =)


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