ONE OF my favourite Swiss cookbooks, not only for the delicious and largely easy-to-make recipes, but also for its beautiful photographs of Swiss scenes, landscapes and traditional architecture (it would qualify as a lovely coffee table book) is Manuela Darling-Gansser’s book Winter in the Alps, Food by the Fireside.
At this time of year I often make my slightly altered version of her Bünder Gerstensuppe when a hearty bowl of soup is just what I need to warm myself up on chilly days or evenings. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
Bündner Gerstensuppe (Pearl Barley Soup)
Serves 4 to 6 people
1 onion finely chopped
2 trimmed leeks, washed & finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 small celeriac, peeled and finely diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (I like “Celtiane” potatoes from Co-Op)
1 fresh bay leaf
150g (5oz) smoked speck or bacon, diced (I prefer Co-Op Natura Farm speck, rind removed)
2 litres (3 pints / 8fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
100g (3.5 oz) pearl barley
200ml /7 fl oz) 25% cream
20g (3/4 oz) unsalted butter
2 Tbsps virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Add the onion and leek and fry gently on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Then add the carrots, celery, celeriac, bay leaf and speck/bacon and continue frying on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, barley and potatoes and simmer gently for about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the cream. Put back on a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes to thicken. Serve and enjoy!