This hearty barley soup is one of my favorites and as a bit of history behind it. I actually got the original recipe from a book called Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley. So yes, this soup was supposedly served on April 14, 1912. The night the Titanic sunk. Ironically, it’s delicious. I’ve tweaked this recipe it a little to make it my own. Here is my version.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 8 oz. (1 cup) pancetta
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 shallots
- 1 ½ cup barley
- 2 qts. beef stock
- Cheese cloth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. peppercorns
- 1 tsp. parsley stems
- 2 tbsp. whiskey (Jameson)
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar (a good one)
- ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
- (Food processor or blender or hand blender)
Chop carrots, onions, garlic and shallots finely. Chop the parsley stems and place in cheese cloth. Add peppercorns and bay leaf into the cheese cloth, wrap and tie ends together. This is called a bouquet garni. Set aside. If using bouillon, heat 2 qts. of water and combine.
In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and butter. Add the pancetta and lightly brown. Next, add the chopped carrots, onions, garlic and shallots and stir occasionally until they begin to tenderize. Add the barley and stir consistently for about a minute. Add the two quarts of stock, and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until the barley is tender. Remove from heat and throw away the bouquet garni.
Using your blender, food processor, or hand blender, blend the soup to create a smooth and thick consistency. (If you have a hand blender, it makes the clean-up easier because you’ll be able to use one pot instead of two. If you use a food processor or blender, you will have to ladle, in small batches into the processor/blender and then pour the contents into a clean pot. This soup is worth the extra steps though!)
Add the two tbsp. of whiskey and red wine vinegar. I prefer Jameson for the whiskey and I recommend using a higher quality of red wine vinegar, such as Rao’s Homemade Organic Red Wine Vinegar (if you can find it in your local grocery store). The soup tastes great at this point and the healthier version would be to leave out the cream. I leave it up to your discretion.
Enjoy! Let me know what you think.