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Spring Fennel & Asparagus Soup with Pearl Barley

We had our first sunny, wind free day of spring today, which gave us time to get into the garden and see how the herbs have faired over the last two weeks of stormy weather. The weeds seemed to have flourished and thankfully most of the herbs were in good shape. As I started digging up the oodles of weeds and grass tufts I discovered some lovely young fennel that had re-seeded over winter and there was a decent clump of bulbs just shouting to be eaten. The temperatures aren’t too barmy yet so I thought a fennel soup would still be acceptable for supper on a cool and cloudless evening  and thought I would pair it with some spring fresh asparagus.


  • 3 medium bulbs fennel
  • 20 spears asparagus (approx), sliced 1 inch thick battons
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cups chicken stock & 1-2 cups water
  • Handful parsley, chopped
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100g Goats feta to finish, crumbled
  • Spoon of butter


  1. Slice fennel bulbs in half and remove the core and discard (like you would a cabbage). Slice fennel bulb thinly.
  2. Place sliced fennel in a pan with the spoon of butter over a low heat and cook till fennel is opaque and soft, approx 8 mins.
  3. Add barley, stock and water and cook on a medium heat till barley is soft, approx 20 mins.
  4. Add chopped parsley, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Finally add the asparagus and cook for only another 2 minutes so asparagus stays firm with a crunch.
  6. Add the crumbled goats cheese to the soup and serve with crusty bread.

Goes well with a crisp fruity Malborough Sauvignon Blanc!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Actually, I converted to liking fennel after I roasted it so I might be up to the challenge of trying it in a soup, especially iof it looks this pretty!

    September 28, 2010
  2. kaori #

    Love your recent galette recipes (both sweet & savoury ones); To be honest, i had been so busy at work and must admit that i haven’t read your blog for a short while..sorry. This fennel barley soup..i must try to make it soon.
    Enjoy your weekend~~~Yay~ Spring is HERE!

    September 30, 2010

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