Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

Marie first sampled this creamy barley, bean, and corn soup at Piccolo, a charming Italian-style restaurant in Ketchum, Idaho. Further research revealed that it is popular in the region of Friuli in the northeastern part of Italy. It’s delicious the day it’s made, but the flavors mellow and improve on standing, so don’t hesitate to make it a day or more ahead. It also freezes well.


  • 1 cup dried white navy beans or other small white beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup slivered lean baked ham (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen corn kernels
  • 10 cups unsalted Chicken or Vegetable Broth, fat skimmed
  • cups diced peeled potato
  • Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil


    1. Soak the beans overnight or give them a quick soak as described on. Drain and set aside.
    2. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the ham, onion, and garlic and sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the drained beans, barley, and corn and stir to coat with oil. Add the broth.
    3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 1½ hours. Stir in the potatoes and continue to cook until the soup has thickened and the vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes longer.
    4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If possible, cool the soup and refrigerate overnight. Reheat at serving time, correcting seasonings and adding water or broth to thin consistency, if necessary.
    5. Just before serving, stir in chopped parsley. Drizzle each serving with olive oil.