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Barley Broth With Leeks Recipe and Health Benefits of Pearl Barley

Updated on March 4, 2015
Pearl barley broth with leeks. Simple, nutritious and tasty!
Pearl barley broth with leeks. Simple, nutritious and tasty! | Source

Pearl barley broth with leeks is tasty, relatively easy to make, nutritious and a substantial, cheap meal.

Without wanting to state the obvious the main ingredient is pearl barley which does take a little preparation, but once prepared is just added to the other ingredients and the dish practically cooks itself.

I tend to use in-season vegetables when making broths and soups, and as leeks are one of my favorite vegetables you'll find I use them whenever I can. This dish is also a great way to use up any leftover vegetables that you may have. In fact, the vegetables I used for this recipe were leftovers from when I made green pea soup.

Pearl barley broth with leeks can also be frozen and re-heated as required.

Pearl barley: Nutrition and benefits

All barley needs to be hulled before it is edible, but pearl barley is processed one stage further and the layer of bran beneath the hull is also removed.

Whilst pearl barley is bereft of nutritious bran after processing, it remains a highly nutritious grain.

There are also advantages in removing the layer of bran, the grain cooks faster and is more palatable than the non pearled variety.

Barley pearls are high in fiber, protein, iron and do contain a small amount of calcium. Pearl barley is also very low in fat and cholesterol but is not gluten-free, and therefore not suitable for the gluten intolerant.

This super grain is also packed with vitamins; A, C, D, E, K , B6 and B12 amongst others. In addition pearl barley contains a range of minerals including: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Barley pearls also contain essential fats such as omega 3 and 6.

4 stars from 1 rating of Pearl barley broth with leeks

Pearl barley broth with leeks recipe

Although I've used leeks, carrots, onions and potatoes in this recipe, you can substitute with other vegetables if you prefer, or you do not have the vegetables I've used available.

When I prepare the barley for this dish I only partially cook it before adding to the other ingredients. I do this because I prefer to rinse the pearls partway through cooking in order to remove any starchy residues. Also, if the barley continues to expand and cook with the other ingredients, it will take on the other flavors.

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 55 min
  • Ready in: 1 hour
  • Yields: Serves 3-4 people


  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 1/2 pints vegetarian/vegan stock
  • 1 tbsp vegan/vegetarian, margarine or oil
  • 3 tsp dried marjoram
  • 3 tsp dried mixed herbs


  • Add half a pint of water to a pan and bring to the boil. Once boiled, add the barley and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or when the barley has started to expand.

  • Whilst the barley is simmering, chop the vegetables into bite size pieces. Remember that you're making a broth so don't cut the vegetables too finely. Set aside for later.

  • After 15 minutes or so the barley should have started to expand. If however, the barley looks like it hasn't began to swell, leave it to simmer a while longer. When ready, remove from the heat and then rinse with boiling water to remove any starchy residues.

  • In a large pot, (at least 3 quarts as you'll be added a couple of pints of stock/broth to the pan) heat the oil or margarine (whichever you prefer) If you're using margarine, heat it gently over a low heat. Once the margarine has started to melt, add the marjoram and mixed herbs.

  • Add the onion and the leeks to the pan, sauté over a medium heat for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.

  • Once the vegetables have softened, add the stock and the barley which you set aside earlier. Bring the liquid to the boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Add the vegetables which you set aside earlier and then cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

  • Keep checking and stirring the broth periodically to ensure that the ingredients do not stick to the base of the pan. You may also need to add more liquid if you feel that the broth is too thick. When the vegetables are soft, the barley has completely expanded and the desired consistency has been reached the broth is ready to serve.


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  • HollieT profile image

    HollieT 3 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    @pamelamccauley I hope they enjoy it, I'm sure they will :)

  • pamelamccauley profile image

    Pamela McCauley 3 years ago from Cross Lanes, West Virginia

    This is a great alternative to a barley casserole that I currently make that my kids love. I will try this next time.

  • HollieT profile image

    HollieT 3 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

    Christine and My Cook Book, you're welcome and I hope you enjoy it.

    aalite, my grandmother used to add water to a bowl of uncooked barley and then leave it on a low light in the oven all day (and I mean all day) then she'd scoop out the barley and add it to a broth or soup but drink the water! I've never heard of the blanket method, that's interesting.

  • aa lite profile image

    aa lite 3 years ago from London

    I keep meaning to eat more grains like barley etc. I think I still have a bag somewhere in my cupboard! The traditional way of cooking it that I was taught (for using it instead of rice), was to cook it for about 40 minutes, until it absorbed the water, then wrap it up in lots of blankets and leave it for a few hours! Your method is a lot less hassle.

  • My Cook Book profile image

    Dil Vil 3 years ago from India

    Great recipe hub, thank you for sharing.

  • Christine P Ann profile image

    Christine P Ann 3 years ago from Australia

    This sounds like a dish I would love, thanks :)