Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Barley and Sage Soup

Well I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but here in the west of Scotland it is pouring, literally.

So I turned to my kitchen cupboards for some ingredients to make a warming soup, namely pearly barley, some tinned beans and sweetcorn.
The sage is fresh from my garden. Originally, I had it growing in a pot, but it didn't seem that happy and hardly showed much leafy growth.  A couple of months ago, I transferred it directly  into the garden plot, in the corner with hard clay soil, and guess what?! It has been thriving.  The leaves are as big as my fingers.

Sage is not a herb that I cook with often.  In the past I often associated it with meat dishes and having very little place in vegetable dishes.  I also found the flavour of soapy and pungent, however in the past few years I have started using it in my cooking sparingly.  One way I enjoy cooking with sage is making a sage butter sauce to coat pasta, or in a cabbage polenta dish (see my blog header).    
This soup was a bit like a 'Vegetarian Chilli Bean' dish, best a day later when the flavours develop and deepen.  The sage gives the soup earthy undertones.  We have so much of this hearty soup leftover, that I know we will be tucking into it for a few more days.  I am submitting this recipe to Chris of Mele Cotte for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #297. WHB is overseen by Haalo from Cook Almost Anything; and Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes.
Barley and Sage Soup
Serves 6 - 8
200g pearl barley, soaked in cold water for 2 hours
40g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves
10 - 12 sage leaves, chopped
1 onion, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small can of sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g can of kidney bean, drained and rinsed
Melt the butter wit the oil, bay leaves and sage in a wide pot.  Add the onion and carrot, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until onions begin to soften.  Add the garlic and the tomato paste.
Drain the barley, add it to the pot with 2 pints of vegetable stock and salt to taste.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to simmer, then cover ad cook until the barley is tender about 35 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Then stir in sweetcorn and kidney beans and simmer for a few minutes to heat through, before serving.  NOTE: If you leave this soup overnight, you will see that the stock will have been absorbed by the thirsty barley, so you will have to top off with more stock on reheating.  Adapted from Deborah Madisons Vegetable Soups.


  1. I never use sage, maybe I should give it a go.

    I hate it that this summer is more lke autumn. We had a bake tonight, real winter or autumn comfort food. It just isn't right, we should be eating salads.

  2. Sorry about the rain! It's finally left Nova Scotia and clearly headed straight to the motherland... Scotland!

    Soup is the only answer on days like that. Sage has such a good robust flavor much used in Italian cooking and I note you like it in a pasta dish. It seems to go well with mushrooms also.

    Another great recipe Shaheen!! Still anxious to try the curried peach, once I see them at the market. Not ripe yet.

  3. i have something to admit: i'm terrified of barley. i see recipes with it (among other grains) and it kinda freaks me out. i'm not sure why... this looks simple enough for me to take the leap.

  4. It's still a bit early for soup here, but yours looks fantastic! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. The weather here has been rainy and cold so we have been feeling soups and other belly warming dishes the past couple of days. This looks absolutely delicious. Sage is a new herb for me this year. I absolutely love it with butternut squash and on top of chicken with prosciutto. I have some growing like crazy in my front flower bed because we have grown to love it so much. I hope it winters over so that I have it again next summer. I am going to give your soup a try. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  6. It's only slightly wintery here (and in Australian terms that may equate to spring-like for you!) but this looks like the sort of soup I'd happily eat all year around. My favourites always include barley, and this looks delicious.

  7. Che bontà!!!! complimenti !!!
    Un kiss da Agata!

  8. I have slowly come to love sage - there is something about the savoury flavours that I love - probably because it goes well with some of my current favourite flavours - smoked paprika and mustard - an I think it goes well with pumpkin - but my sad has withered in the pot which made me quite sad - wish I had somewhere to plant it in soil. would love to try this stew - lovely flavours

  9. Thanks for linking up to Garden Tuesday!! My sage does great in my garden too, so I am always looking for ways to use it!

  10. ANOTHER great soup idea for me to make when the Autumn months gather pace and arrive, and I am a BIG pulse lover too!

  11. Hey Shaheen,

    this looks great! I just made a Barley Pilaf today for lunch actually, from a great book by Simon Hopkinson called The Vegetarian Option. Worth checking out if you get the time. Totally agree though; Barley definitely benefits from resting overnight to deepen the flavours and sage is something I don't use much either.

  12. Hi Jacqueline.
    I'm hoping to make some more sagey dishes, so you never know you may find something here to get you cooking with it.

    I am with you on the Scottish summer being more lke autumn, but would add bordering on winter. I had to pull on a jumper yesterday evening. And your so right it should be summery food, not oven bake grub.

    Thanks affectioknit.
    Lovely to hear from you.

    Hi Gardeningbren.
    The sun had been teasing us a little, but its always followed by the rain.
    I am happy that that the rain has finally left Nova Scotia, but not so happy that its coming to olda Scotia!

    I must try sage with the mushrooms sometimes.

    Hope you get some ripe peaches to make the curried peach dish. I am lookign forward to seeing your version for sure.

  13. Hi Kristy.
    i totally understand your reaction to barley. I had never liked it, whenever I had it in dishes in the past, it was too spongy or still uncooked. So I was put off it, until I started cooking it myself and my attitude towards it change. So I would encourage you to try it, as made by your own hands you may find yourself appreicating it a lot more.

    Hi Corinnea,
    Truth is it is early for soup here too, but the weather says otherwise!

    Hi Candace,
    Sorry to read that you have similar weather, but good to note that you have been enjoying belly warming dishes.

    I have seen a recipe in one of my cookbooks for pumpkins and sage, so its really good to read your comment that confirms this. I cn't wait to try when pumpkin season hits here.

    Sage is a hardy plant, so i have no doubt it will be fine for next year. I do hope you like the soup as much as we have been. Thank you so much for your lovely comment x

  14. Hi Kari.

    Thank you x

    Thank you Agata.

    Hi Johanna,
    I hope I too come to love sage, at the moment I am not minding it.

    Your the second person to comment that it compliments pumpkin - something I will try in the autumn. I am sorry to read that your sage has withered...

  15. Hi Pam.
    Its my pleasure to participate in your Garden Tuesday, thanks for giving the opporutnity!

    Thank you so much Karen.
    I have a good feelign that you will like this soup.

    Hello Adam and Theresa,
    I keep meaning to make Barley Pilaf, but whenever i see the barley jar - it always calls out soup to me. I am going to write on the jar 'make barley pilaf with me'.
    I've flicked through Simon Hopkinsons book The Vegetarian Option a number of times and decided at th time not to purchase it, kind of regretting it now.

  16. This sounds delicious and although it's hot as hell here in FL right now -I LOVE soup and actually made some night before last. Thanks for this delicious looking and sounding soup.

  17. Thank you Glo.
    Soup in the summer; or when its hot - nothing wrong with that :)

  18. Looks lovely! It would have to wait until October where I am. We have hot Augusts in Kansas!

  19. Lauren,
    Send us some of that hot weather, we so need it in Scotland esp while the summer lasts.

  20. Very nice soup! I also don't cook much with sage but I love having it in the garden. I have just planted a new kind, called Black Sage. I must try the combination of sage and corn. Hope the weather improves.

  21. Thank you Simona,
    Black Sage - I've grown pineapple sage, but never black sage. Does it smell or taste any different?


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