Monday, March 2, 2009

Quivering Nostrils!

“There is nothing like a plate or a bowl of hot soup, its wisp of aromatic steam making the nostrils quiver with anticipation, to dispel the depressing effects of a grueling day at the office or the shop, rain or snow in the streets, or bad news in the papers.”--Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)

My mom started making this soup toward the tail end of my middle school years. The original recipe is for beef and barley. She modified it to fit our tastes at the time. She would make it once a week. When the soup cooled off, she would fill 1 cup containers and store them in the fridge and freezer.

This soup takes about a half a day (mostly just simmering) and leaves your house smelling heavenly. I have even had neighbors in my building call asking when dinner would be ready!

So by request- here it is:

Ms. Mary's Ham and Barley Soup

1/2 cup dry lima, navy, or pinto beans*
1/2 large onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large, meaty, ham shank 8-10 oz
1/4 cup chicken soup base
1/2 cup long cook pearl barley
12 cups hot water

Sort and rinse dry beans. Boil and water for 3 minutes; let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
* To save time, substitute one 15 oz can of beans, drained.

In a stock pot, saute onion, celery, garlic, in about 2 tablespoons of water for 3-5 minutes.

Add soup base, water, barley, beans, and ham shank. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Add carrots to soup and continue cooking, covered, for 30 minutes.

Remove ham shank. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and stir into soup.

Divide into (14-16) 1-cup containers.

Just a note- for those of you who haven't cooked with barley. Be sure you get long cook, not quick cook. Also, 1/2 cup of dry pearl barley puffs up quite a bit. Make this recipe as is one time before you make any changes.


  1. Hmmmmmmm .... Yummy soup!

    And for those of you who prefer to go meatless, you can use a vegetable soup base instead of chicken, and just leave the ham out. Then, when you get the little cups out of the fridge, cube up some extra-firm tofu and add it. That's what we used to do sometimes. Sometimes we added tofu even though we had ham in there.

    And the kids would run around singing, "Killer tofu" from the Doug cartoon on Nickelodeon.

  2. But who sang Killer Tofu?! The Beets. That's right, I still remember the song :) And quail man for that matter. tehe, good times.