Minestra D’Orzo alla Trentina

Trentino Barley Soup


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This thick and creamy soup has lots of flavour with the added bonus of a meaty ham bone to make it really tasty and even more filling - perfect for a cold winter’s day. The meat should fall off the bone and become a part of the soup as it cooks. This is a traditional and old-fashioned soup in Trentino, where thrifty barley is used in all kinds of different dishes. A similar soup can be made using beans or lentils instead of barley. Pork fat is the most common cooking fat used in the region, where olive oil is not produced.


  • 200 g/7 oz pearl barley, rinsed
  • 30-45 ml/2-3 tbsp pork fat or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 or 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig, leaves chopped
  • 4 fresh marjoram sprigs, leaves chopped
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
  • 2.25 litres/4 pints/10 cups meat stock
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 meaty speck bone, or smoked ham bone
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


  1. Put the barley in a large pan and cover it with plenty of cold water. Boil gently for 50 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

  2. Put the pork fat or oil in a large pan and add the onion, carrot and celery, and most of the herbs. Set aside the remaining herbs for the garnish. Fry the vegetables and herbs gently until sizzling, then stir in the flour.

  3. Add the barley, stock, potatoes and seasoning. Stir, then add the speck or ham bone and submerge in the liquid. Cover and simmer, stirring often, for 1 hour, until the meat has fallen off the bone and the vegetables are very soft.

  4. Serve garnished with the reserved herbs, with Parmesan cheese offered separately.