The flavors of this Irish farmhouse soup come from warm vegetable broth, potatoes, barley, carrots, leek and onion. Farmhouse soup is delicious and light as a simple broth soup, or you can thicken it for an even heartier meal.
My family is Irish American and it is so fun for me to continue to play with easy traditional recipes, and add to our family’s canon of go to Irish dishes. This was my first time to make an Irish soup. When I was researching recipes, I discovered a lot of them. They’re all very much like basic American soups – not a surprise, since 10% to 13% of Americans claim some Irish heritage. This recipe is a combination of many soup recipes I discovered.
With this recipe, you cook rice or barley in a separate saucepan, then add it to the soup before the final simmering, so you won’t end up with barley that is too soft.
Most of the work for this recipe involves chopping the vegetables. You may not be familiar with cleaning and cutting leeks. Here’s a quick one-page tutorial from Simply Recipes to help. Leeks are such a great soup addition. With a very mild flavor, a leek adds an essence of onion without overpowering your recipe.
I use a nice trick when cutting up potatoes: I always put them into a bowl of cold water. This removes a lot of the starch and, more importantly, keeps them white and bright. I’ve had brown spots form on potatoes right after I’ve cut them, then get even more brown spots as they sit for only a minute or two. Nobody wants that! Just have a mixing bowl half full of cold water standing by as you chop (or slice or dice) your potatoes. Slip the cut potatoes into the water to wait until you need to add them to your recipe. If the water becomes very cloudy with starch, you can rinse the potatoes and refill the bowl with fresh water. Before using them to saute or bake, just pat dry the potato pieces. If adding to soup, drying isn’t necessary.
When simmering both the barley and the soup, I partially cover the pan with a lid. Either open vents built into your pan lid and cover fully, or slip the lid to one side so that just a small gap allows some steam to escape, while still retaining most of the moisture. This keeps the liquid from evaporating and keeps most of your vegetable broth in the soup.
If you’re interesting in other traditional Irish recipes, you might enjoy my Colcannon with Brussel Sprouts, along with other Irish cuisine.
|Prep Time||20 minutes|
|Cook Time||1 hour|
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 7 cups vegetable broth or stock or your favorite vegan broth or stock
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil like sunflower, grapeseed, canola
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 leek washed, halved, and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 bay leaves
- fresh rosemary leaves stripped from stem, chopped, optional
- fresh thyme leaves stripped from stem, chopped, optional
- 1 tablespoon corn starch for thickening the soup, optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- Chop all vegetables. Set aside.
- Add two cups of the vegetable broth/stock to a medium saucepan and add the pearl barley. Bring the broth to a boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook until the barley begins to soften (mine took 15 minutes; yours might take longer), then remove the pan from the hot burner and uncover the pan.
- While the barley is cooking, heat the 2 tablespoons of neutral oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Pat dry any vegetables you have soaking in water.
- Add all of the chopped vegetables to the oil: onion, celery, carrots, potatoes and leek. Stir the vegetables as they saute to keep them from browning or sticking to the pan. Cook and stir for 5 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. (They will finish cooking when broth is added.)
- Add 4 cups of vegetable broth to the soup pot or dutch oven. Add the cooked pearl barley and both bay leaves. If using fresh thyme or rosemary, add to the broth mixture at this time. Turn the heat up for a minute to bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove both bay leaves and throw away.
- At this point, you can add the final 1 cup of vegetable broth to the soup, heat through, add salt and pepper, and serve as is. Or you can thicken it a tiny bit with the instructions below.
- Stir the tablespoon of cornstarch into the last cup of the vegetable broth until it is smooth and thoroughly dissolved. Pour this cornstarch mixture into the soup, stirring the soup as you pour. Continue to stir for 2 or 3 minutes, until the soup thickens and is heated through.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped green onions or fresh parsley for garnish. Serve hot with your favorite crackers or bread.
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Hi can I do this soup in a soup maker???
I don’t know! I’ve never used a soup maker!