Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
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Christine McFadden with students
Barbecued Lobster with
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Celery and Barley Soup
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Celery barley soup seeds recipe development Dorset Foodie Christine McFadden

Celery and Barley Soup with Seeds

An admittedly sludge-coloured soup brought to life by a vibrant shower of greenery and some tasty seeds. You’ll find ajwain and celery seeds in good supermarkets, but if you can’t get hold of these use dill or cumin seeds instead.
Serves 4

pearled barley 60g
chicken stock or vegetable stock 1.75 litres
celery 1 large bunch with leaves, preferably organic
butter 60g
onions 3, chopped
sea salt 2–3 good pinches
celery seeds or ajwain seeds ½ tsp crushed, plus extra to garnish
celery leaves or spring onion tops roughly chopped, to garnish

1) Rinse the pearled barley in several changes of water to get rid of any dust. Tip into a saucepan with 1 litre of the stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 45 minutes or until the barley is soft but still slightly chewy.

2) While the barley is cooking, trim the root from the celery and discard. Trim the leaves, saving a few as a garnish. Wash the stalks well, then remove the strings using a swivel peeler. Chop the stalks into small nuggets.

3) When the barley is nearly ready, melt the butter in a roomy saucepan. Add the onion, celery, sea salt and the crushed seeds. Cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes, or until soft but not browned.

4) Add the contents of the barley pan to the vegetables, along with the remaining 750ml of stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, partially cover and gently simmer for 15–20 minutes until the vegetables are very soft. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a little water or more stock.

5) Ladle into serving bowls, then strew with the chopped greenery and a few seeds.

Recipe © Christine McFadden, November 2021

    Photography: Christine McFadden    
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