Royal Recipes: Barley Soup

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Royal Recipes series continues with Barley Soup. It was a soup enjoyed by King George III on 6th February 1789. We know that because it appears on his menu. As he was just recovering after his mental illness, he would have had it for sure. After reading a bit about the Georgian period, I can say I quite like King George III.

He is known as the King that lost America and/or as the “mad King”, but he was a loving husband and father, a keen farmer, a frugal King that liked living in what is a small palace – Kew Palace. He had an inquisitive mind and an interest in mathematics. George III abandons Hampton Court Palace and turns it into grace-and-favour apartments. At the moment his letters are digitized and they will be made available online, with the accord of her majesty, Queen Elizabeth. I will read a few of those, as I’m sure they will be fascinating.

Barley Soup

Going back to the soup. This is a frugal recipe, made vegetarian by me. For King George it would have been made with beef stock. That is the only change I made to it. It was the first time I’ve used raisins in a soup, but it works. My husband, who is not too keen on raisins, liked the soup too. I will make this soup again, I liked it that much. The raisins give it a slightly sweet taste, but a very mild one. It does add an extra layer to the soup.

The original recipe appeared in New and Easy Method of Cookery by Elizabeth Cleland, from 1755. It is amazingly simple, preparation takes only 15 minutes, the rest is leaving it to boil. The recipe mentions adding a bit of cream when serving. If you skip this, then the dish will be vegan. I’ve added the cream and I liked it. As the recipe doesn’t ask for any oil, I think the cream gives it a bit of flavour.

Ingredients for 4 portions of Barley Soup:

– 2.5l vegetable stock
– 250g pearl barley
– 2 onions
– 25g raisins
– salt
– pepper
– dash of cream

Put the vegetable stock and the pearl barley in a pan over medium heat. Bring to boil, then leave it to simmer for 45 minutes. Then, wash and chop the onions. Toss them in, toss in the raisins too. Add a bit of salt and pepper and taste. Add more spices, according to your taste. Leave the soup to boil for another 15 minutes.

Serve the soup hot with cream. A spoon of cream will give the soup an extra delicious flavour. It’s that easy to make.

Barley Soup - in spoon

Have you ever had Barley Soup? What do you think of adding raisins in a soup?

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