k  10 Vegetable and Barley Minestrone  k

Well if you include the tinned tomatoes and onion this is technically 12 veg minestrone! The joy of minestrone is that it’s all year round delicious and nourishing – the veggies cook in a rich tomato broth that is high in super anti-oxidant lycopene as well as vitamins minerals and phytonutrients.

You can make it with many different combinations of vegetables according to the seasons. I tend to stick with a classic base of carrot, onion, celery and courgette and always a good handful of kale and fresh parsley before serving.

I love using pearl barley in this recipe as it adds great texture and bite – it’s my go to grain as it has really impressive health benefits. It’s high in satiety-promoting fibre (it keeps you fuller for longer), it also contains 8 essential amino acids, it’s heart healthy and helps lower cholesterol and helps keep blood sugar levels in check.

This soup will fill you up, rather than fill you out….so you can slurp yourself away to healthy happiness…


Serves 4

3 tablespoons organic barley

2 Bay leaves

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 small carrot, chopped into 1 cm cubes

1 stick of celery, chopped

1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds

½ aubergine into 1 cm cubes

½ red pepper into 1 cm cubes

½ green pepper into 1 cm cubes

½ a courgette into 1 cm cubes

About 70g butternut squash into 1 cm cubes

¼ of a fresh red chilli, finely chopped (or good pinch of chilli flakes)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1.2 litres organic vegetable stock

500g tinned chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato puree

Handful of chopped kale leaves (or torn spinach leaves or watercress)

Handful chopped parsley (use the stalks when cooking the onions)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

It tastes amazing garnished with basil leaves and served with soda bread and grated Parmesan!


  1. Add the barley to a pan of water with the bay leaves and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain (reserving about half a glass of the cooking water), and discard the bay leaf
  2. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel seeds and the parsley stalks. Sweat it very slowly on a low heat for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the garlic, allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Next add the aubergines, peppers, courgettes and squash, sprinkle over the paprika and dried thyme. Add tinned tomatoes, vegetable stock and tomato puree and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  3. If you think the soup is looking too thick, add a little more stock or some of the reserved barley cooking water to thin it down a bit. Add the balsamic vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. A few minutes before serving add the kale or spinach and the fresh parsley. Serve sprinkled with the torn-up basil leaves and with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. Put a block of Parmesan and a grater on the table for everyone to help themselves. Delish!