On the menu of an Italian restaurant where we ate recently, my husband and I both noticed the asparagus, potato, and pearl barley soup. Although we ended up ordering other things on that occasion, the idea wouldn't go away, so I went on to make my own version. Have I mentioned lately how much I love asparagus? The potato makes for a creamy, thick soup base, and the pearl barley gives it a bit of texture.
Asparagus, Potato, & Pearl Barley Soup
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2tbsp olive oil
1.5 litres vegetable stock
500g fresh asparagus (weigh after removing the woody ends)
50g (½ cup) pearl barley (dried)
pepper to taste
- Finely chop the onion and garlic.
- Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the onion and garlic until soft.
- Chop the potatoes into small pieces (approx. 1cm cubes).
- Add one litre of vegetable stock to the onions, and simmer the potatoes for about 45 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan, cook the pearl barley in the remaining 500ml of stock, adding extra water if necessary as the barley absorbs the liquid.
- Reserve about half of the asparagus tips for a garnish, and finely chop the remaining asparagus spears into 1cm-long pieces. Add to the soup and simmer until soft.
- Puree the potato and asparagus soup base, and add black pepper to taste.
- Stir the pearl barley into the soup, and add some extra stock if necessary to get your desired texture.
- Steam the reserved asparagus tips until tender (approx. 2 minutes).
- In the bowls, top the soup with the asparagus tips and a twist of fresh black pepper. Serve with crusty granary bread.
Without the bread, this soup has about 240 calories per serving, and because of the potatoes, it's really rather filling.