Barley and split pea soup

One of my favourite cookbooks before I went vegan was “The Flavour of California” by Marlena Spieler. It’s a vegetarian book but quite a lot of the recipes are naturally vegan or quite easy to veganise. The book doesn’t seem to be available anymore so if you happen to see it anywhere for sale I’d grab it while you can. Like lots of my books I don’t look at it very often but flicking through it now there’s lots to make.

One of my favourite ever soups is from this book and I make it reasonably often. It’s easy, hearty, comforting, totally perfect for a cold day and naturally vegan. I made the salsa from the book but if you’ve got any leftover salsa knocking around it’s even quicker.

Serves 4
8oz pearl barley
2oz split peas
5 cups veg broth (more or less, depending how thick you like it)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp salsa (see below)

Put the barley, split peas, broth and cumin into a pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the barley and split peas are tender, around 40 minutes. In a separate pan heat the garlic in the oil and then add to the split pea and barley mix, along with the salsa.

Coriander and lemon salsa
2 leaves romaine or cos lettuce
2 cloves garlic
1 fresh red or green chilli
4 tbsps lemon juice
2oz fresh coriander

Mix all together in a food processor/blender.

I also wanted to remind everyone about the other blog I co-write with my friend Tami about cheap cross country moving companies. We’re cooking our way through the 2 Horizons books. We started it for VeganMofo but we’re updating it sporadically. I’ve just written about my Christmas Eve starter and I have a fantastic Christmas Day breakfast to come in the next few days. If you make anything from either of those books let us know; we’d love to hear about it!

Split pea and barley soup

I don’t often make soup and when I do it tends to be closer to a stew or casserole because I don’t have too much time for thin watery soup. It’s not filling enough to eat as a meal but fills you up enough that you can’t really tuck in and enjoy your carb main course overload.  And if I try to make thick chunky soups my husband doesn’t see them as a meal and still expects a main course afterwards!  This one though is a soup recipe I can really recommend and I will often make it for lunch at weekends.

I love pearl barley and am sad that it doesn’t feature more often in popular recipes. When I was growing up  I loved my Mum’s chicken casserole with lots of barley in it, but I’ve hardly found any good recipes for it since I became vegan. That’s why I was so keen originally to try this recipe from Marlena Spieler’s “Flavor of California”, and I’ve been making it regularly ever since. It’s a nice book  anyway- vegetarian with a decent sprinkling of vegan or easily veganisable recipes.

The base of this recipe is a lovely earthy thick mixture which is simply about twice the amount of barley to yellow split peas cooked in vegetable stock with some ground cumin for about 45 minutes until they’re soft. The amount of broth you use will determine how liquid your soup is. When they’re cooked you stir in a coriander and lemon salsa which is a very simple blend of lettuce, coriander, garlic, chilli and lime juice, but this time I used some coriander pesto from this recipe which I had leftover from something else. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as it’s fresh and zingy because it really lifts the earthy tone of the lentils and barley.

I’ve been doing lots of other cooking but most of it has been tester recipes. I’ll do a post about that soon. In the meantime I’m trying to plan my Christmas cooking. More on that to come too!