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Pearl Barley & Black Bean Soup with Kale


We Polish people, and I’m sure I’d be right to say, the whole Slavic tribe, we love soups! But please, with a few exceptions (cauliflower / butternut squash / mushroom cream), do not serve me a soup that has been blended into papka (pulp!). I like to chew my food. In fact, the problems with human’s impacted wisdom teeth, so common recently, are related to the fact that we do not use our jaws enough; therefore, they do not grow big enough to accommodate all the teeth! Also, chewing signals the body to begin the digestion process, for example, it alerts the stomach to prepare to make stomach acid.

Equipment: big soup cooking pot

Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 1h min

Difficulty: easy




  • 2 large onions
  • 3 heaped tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 1 tbsp. marjoram
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. chilli flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 potato, peeled & chopped
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 bay leaves*
  • 400ml can of chopped tomatoes
  • 150g pearl barley, rinsed
  • 200g black beans, cooked or canned
  • 100g kale, rinsed
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Note: make sure the bay leaves are still green(ish). If they become completely brown and dry, there is hardly any flavour left in them!


1.  Prep the bay leaves: crush the leaves in your hand and put them into a small pan. Pour over 100 ml of boiling water and add a pinch of salt – this will get the boiling point of water to 102°C and extract more flavour. Put aside.

2. In a large cooking pot melt the coconut oil and add the onions. Cook on a high heat constantly stirring for 2 minutes, or, until golden. Turn down the heat and add all the spices, herbs & pressed garlic. Cook for another minute, make sure to stir – do not let the spices burn. Add the chopped leeks, cook for another 5 minutes constantly stirring, if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a drop of water.

3. Add the peeled (if not organic) & chopped carrots and the potato to the cooking pot and fry for another 5-10 minutes. Add 800ml of filtered water, bouillon, sugar, lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, the bay leaves’ water and the pearl barley. Bring to boil and then simmer for another 45 minutes.

4. Add the beans and kale and cook for another 5 minutes.

5. Check for seasoning; add plenty of freshly ground black pepper and potentially salt, if needed. (the vegetable bouillon often has plenty of salt in it)

6. Serve with a piece of bread & hummus, and, if possible prepare a day in advance for the flavours to combine.


12 January 2019