One of the recipes in last month's Italian-themed Kitchen Trotter box was for Zuppa di orzo, a rustic soup from Tuscany containing vegetables and barley. It's very homely and healthy and was just what we wanted over a summer of over-indulging on holiday. I kept adding water and it kept absorbing it all so ours ended up more of a stew than a soup - in fact, the next day, I served the leftovers as an accompaniment for lunch, on a plate alongside pork chops !
This recipe used two ingredients from the Kitchen Trotter box - some semidry sage, which has a wonderfully pungent aroma, and a bag of Zuppa di Orzo soup mix, made with pearl barley, lentils, millet and peas, all grown on an organic farm in Tuscany.
Zuppa di orzo (Pearl barley soup)
a drizzle of olive oil
280g Zuppa di Orzo soup mix, made with pearl barley, lentils, millet and peas
1 red onion
a stick of celery
1 yellow pepper (or green or red, depending in what's in the fridge)
2 pinches semi dry sage
salt & pepper
a handful of fresh parsley
a glass of white wine
Dice the carrots, onions, potatoes and celery. Gently fry in the olive oil.
Toss in the barley mix (which didn't need presoaking but check the instructions, just in case !).
Pour in the wine and leave it to evaporate over a low heat, then add the water.
Toss in the tomatoes (which are supposed to be plunged in boiling water and peeled, but I never bother) and the peppers. Add the salt, pepper, parsley (I used dried so put it in now but if using fresh, scatter it on top at the end) and sage.
Cook for 20 minutes until the vegetables and the barley mix are cooked through and soft but not mushy. Add extra water during the cooking process as necessary.
This is traditionally served cold or lukewarm, with crusty bread, but we ate ours hot and it was delicious. Feel free to add extra herbs and spices to give it a bit more oomph - I added smoked paprika and drizzled both lemon and chilli-infused olive oil over the top just before serving, which worked really well.
Fancy trying some more Italian cuisine? How about Courgettes Involtini, Chicken Breast with Pine Nuts & Parmesan, Crostata, Parmesan Crusted Risotto Balls or Sicilian Salad ?
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