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Rachel Allen’s soup for the soul: Lamb and Pearl Barley Broth

by Rachel Allen

published on 4 February 2022

This is a gorgeously substantial bowl of soup yet soothingly light, restorative and oh-so comforting. It is just what I crave if I’m feeling a bit tired or under the weather with a cold, making it ideal for this time of the year.

A great way to use up leftover cooked meat; roast lamb, cooked chicken, beef or pork all work equally well in this soup. I adore the gentle chew of pearl barley, it brings such good texture and flavour too, though feel free to pop in leftover white or brown rice, pulses or even cooked vegetables from your weekend roast, in which case add them in close to the end of cooking.

With so many possible variations, this heartwarming soup really is ideal for using up goodies from the fridge to give them a new lease of life for the week ahead. Soup really is the gift that keeps on giving. 

From the book

Rachel Allen

Lamb and Pearl Barley Broth

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

25g butter

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely grated

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of rosemary

Salt and freshly ground pepper

200g leftover cooked lamb, sliced or shredded

1 medium parsnip, peeled and finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped

100g pearl barley (or pearled spelt)

1.25 litres chicken stock

2 tbsp chopped parsley


Place the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once the butter is melted and foaming, add the onions, celery, garlic, bay leaf and rosemary sprig.

Season with salt and pepper, then turn the heat to low, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes, or until the onions are softened.

Add the lamb, the chopped parsnip and carrot, the pearl barley and the stock. Turn the heat up and simmer, covered, for about 25–30 minutes, until the vegetables and barley are deliciously tender.

Remove the bay and rosemary. Stir in the chopped parsley, season again to taste, then serve.


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