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Barley Soup With Seafood


Proving that there’s more to Italian cuisine than spaghetti vongole and quattro stagioni pizza, this soup is southern Italian peasant food at its very best. Serve with a rustic garlic ciabatta to mop up the juices and, despite the fact that it’s a seafood dish, a glass of hearty red, according to our wine expert Jane Parkinson. Well, if you insist…

KCal: 210 per serving

Saturated fat: 1.3g

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8-10):

For the soffritto (the chopped vegetables which form the base of the soup):

  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 medium white onions, finely chopped
  • ½ fresh red chilli
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 parsley stalks
  • 20g salt
  • Black pepper

For the soup:

  • 250g pearl barley
  • 100ml white wine
  • 2 litres good quality fish stock
  • 500ml water
  • 4 raw king prawns
  • 6 raw langoustines
  • 15 live clams, cleaned (discard any that are broken or do not close when tapped)
  • 15 live mussels, beards pulled off, cleaned (discard any that are broken or do not close when tapped)


Step 1: To make the soffritto heat the oil in a large saucepan then add the vegetables, chilli, garlic and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Fry for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables have softened.

Step 2: Add the pearl barley and continue to stir for a further 10 minutes as it absorbs the juices. Add the wine and reduce for a few minutes, then add the stock and water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the barley is cooked.

Step 3: Remove the heads from the prawns and peel off their shells and those of the langoustines. Cut the bodies in half along the backs and extract the black veins.

Step 4: Put a quarter of the soup in a blender or through a sieve and return it to the pan. Add the prawns, langoustines, clams and mussels, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the shellfish is cooked. Serve in warmed bowls.

From The Italian Cookery Course by Katie Caldesi (£19.99, Kyle Books)

Eat with …

Wine expert Jane Parkinson suggests the perfect pairing

Nerello Mascalese 2011, £5.99, Marks & Spencer

Sticking with southern Italy for this recipe, the perky red grape Nerello Mascalese is Sicily’s native answer to the illustrious Pinot Noir, and it’s helping to change the image of this island’s wine for the better. Its delicate, soft red-fruit flavours make it a great lighter red wine for seafood (especially if there’s chilli involved), while its light, earthy tannins bring out the best of the barley, too.



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