Barley, Kale and Vegetables soup – Fat Free and Full of flavour

November 30, 2013 Published by Dina

So, how do you get flavour into foods without adding oil? I am so used to cooking foods in a little olive oil to bring out the flavour that it seems impossible to get flavour without it. However, it is possible and this full flavour soup without any free oil or butter shows it can be done. I resisted the temptation to sauté the vegetables in oil and just steam-sautéed them in a little water and a pinch of sugar, added everything else in and the result was a delicious soup that if I didn’t disclose the lack of oil I don’t think anyone would have noticed. My husband finished two bowls before I even had a chance to take pictures. Why cooking without fat? For the obvious reasons: high fat diet contributes to disease and obesity, but I am not here to lecture. Just sharing a good recipe.

Barley and kale soup

Barley comes in various forms, not all of which are whole grain. Hulled barley is the whole grain version, while pearl barley is not because the outer bran layer has been removed. Pearl barley cooks  faster and is less chewy. Hulled barley has only the outer layer removed, leaving the bran layer intact. It takes a little longer to cook but is packed with nutrition and has a nice chewy bite.

I cooked the barley about a week ago and didn’t get a chance to work with it so I put it in a freezer bag and placed it in the freezer. I pulled it out today and as I am trying to clean out the fridge in preparation for our upcoming trip, used several of the vegetables in this hearty and beautiful soup. I had about 4 cups of cooked barley so if you cook the barley especially for the soup you would need a cup of dry barley. Barley is a good grain and if you haven’t cooked with it I think you’d find it easy to work with and very versatile. All you need to do is rinse it well, cover with about 4 cups water and cook until the grains are soft. Drain extra liquid or use them in soups. The barley can be frozen for future use in salads, soups, pilaf or even breakfast. For the herbs in the soup: I have been drying my own herbs from the summer garden and find that they are quite nice and aromatic, and used them in the soup.

I think this soup is pretty flexible. Add what you have, omit what you do’t have. Let me know if you come up with a good variation.



1 onion, chopped.

2 garlic cloves, crushed1 cup barley

Barley soup

1/4 cup water or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups carrots, peeled and diced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 red pepper, seeded and diced

1 tablespoon dry thyme or a handful fresh

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

8 cups vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

A large handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 small bunch black kale



Place chopped onion and garlic in a large soup pot (I like Le Creuset French Oven, hold about 4 quarts)

Barley and kale soup

Add 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon sugar and bring to a boil.

Cook stirring until the water almost evaporates.

Add the carrots, parsnip, turnip and red pepper and stir them around for a couple of minutes.

Add the thyme and coriander seeds and mix the in.

Add rinsed barley.

Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Lower heat, add half the parsley and cook, partially covered, until barley is cooked and the vegetables are tender.

When the soup is done add the ribboned kale and cook another three minutes or so.

Adjust seasoning and serve or store in mason jars to serve later.



Barley, Kale Vegetable Soup


Barley soup in Le Creuset French Oven 


Barley and kale soup





  • Jeannette says:

    Would love to try this but one question. What kind of veggie stock did you use Dina? Or did you make your own? I’ve found so much variation among commercial makes and some are ver y dark in colour which makes me wonder what’s in them.

    • Dina says:

      Jeannette, so nice to hear from you. I know what you mean about the dark stock in the stores. There is one I know is light coloured but it escapes me right now. I will check again when we get back home in the spring and will let you know then. Also, Artisan Bakery in Guischan Village sells home made stocks, try theirs. And, Paris is so much fun.

  • bellini says:

    it sounds perfect right now Dina. And yes there is a mathematical question.