Cream of Barley Soup

A soup deriving directly from the early pottages served at several Northumbrian and Cumbrian farmhouses. This recipe comes from Carlisle, in the neighbourhood of Hadrian’s Wall.


  • tablespoons (60 g) pearl barley
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
  • 1 small onion, cut in pieces
  • 1 small carrot, cut in pieces
  • 1 stick celery, cut in pieces
  • 1 quart (9 dl) chicken stock (stock cube will do, but homemade is better)
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • cup (1.5 dl) single cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley
  • 3 slices bread, cut in ½ inch (1 cm) squares and fried


Wash the barley, put it into cold water and bring to the boil. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and lightly fry the vegetables. Add the barley and the stock and stir. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain the soup. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and thicken by stirring in the beaten egg yolks and the cream. Do not allow the soup to boil again.

Sprinkle the top of the soup with the parsley and serve the little squares of hot fried bread separately.