Friday 26 June 2015

Polish Pearl Barley Soup - aka Krupnik!

Pearl barley soup brings back happy memories for me of cold, wintry Sunday nights in our childhood home, a big pot of soup bubbling away on the stove, full of carrots and celery and shreds of beef. Mum had to feed 4 hungry children on not much money so this thick, chunky soup went a long way with some bread or scones.  I smiled when I saw this recipe in 'Sugared Oranges' by Beata Zatorska for a Polish version of mum's soup.  It is actually pretty much the same as mum's except for the dill and parsley, and the substitution of chicken for beef, or should that be beef for chicken?  I am never sure which way that should go.

Anyway, be grateful I am not sharing Russian barley soup with you - Rassolnik, made with pickled cucumbers, barley and kidneys!   That is a step too far for me.  Nah, I would give it a go if someone cooked it for me.  I believe in eating whatever someone is kind enough to make for you, even if not your fave dish.  My sis-in-law's sis-in-law made us spaghetti with tomato sauce one night for dinner and as regular readers may know, for me this does not compute!  Eek to packet pasta and eek to (tasteless) tomato sauce!  But yes I ate as much as I could stomach, and then went home to have some dinner:)

Righto, enough whingeing.  On to the soup.  Oh, and mum's did not have dried porcini mushroom flavouring it either. Dad was a meat and 3 veg man so nothing 'foreign' for him.  If you have time, rinse and soak the barley for a few hours before making the soup.  I left it late so only soaked it for 2 hours, though 6-8 hours is better, says Beata.


1 red onion, diced
2 large carrots, chopped - I like my carrots chunky
1-2 stalks of celery, sliced up
1 parsnip, diced - I used an extra half carrot and skipped the parsnip
3 chicken thigh cutlets (with bones in)
4 dried porcini mushrooms
200g. pearl barley (soaked for a few hours in cold water)
2 tsp chicken stock powder
2.7 litres of water (my soup pan wouldn't hold the 3 litres called for in the recipe!)
1 tbs lightly dried parsley
1 tbs dill paste (from a tube)
1 large potato, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces
salt and pepper to taste


Place the peeled and chopped onion, carrots, celery, parsnip and chicken cutlets into a large saucepan
Add in the porcini, barley, stock powder and water and half of the parsley and dill
Bring to the boil and simmer away for an hour till tender and beautiful
Throw in the diced potato and add salt and pepper to taste (I found it needed quite a lot)
Stir in the other half of the parsley and dill
Simmer for another 15 minutes
Pull the chicken meat off the bones, discard the bones and plop the meat back into the soup
Serve with crusty bread, in large bowls

Why not fresh herbs you may well ask?  Because seeing how it is winter, the fresh herbs looked very sad and sorry and not worth the money.  If you do find decent quality herbs, by all means use them and double the quantities given here. There was no need to saute the veggies first as I would normally have done (the recipe does not suggest this, and truly I found the soup delicious without doing it).  Normally I would soak the dried porcini first, but the recipe said to just chuck 'em in, so I did!  It also had only 2 chicken wings as part of the soup, which are removed at the end of cooking, but I felt there would be more flavour, and nicer to have a bit of flesh in the soup so I added the cutlets.


chopped veggies in the pan    

barley soaked and drained; potato ready for dicing  

adding chicken thigh cutlets  

ready for boiling!

diced potato about to be plopped in  

ready to eat 

even better the next day for lunch!  

Did I mention how much I enjoyed the book this came from?  The author is a doctor in Sydney, but travels often back to Poland, her home-country.  This book, and her earlier one Rose Petal Jam are both full of delightful photos taken by her husband Simon; stories about her childhood, and the delicious foods her grandmother made for the family.  Her writing is a little over the top for me, a tad too sentimental, but I understand that her heart is still in Poland in many ways.  It is a beautiful book with many lovely photos, and you can happily find yourself "lost in Poland." And the recipes are interesting too!

File:Jagniatkow 01.jpg
church in Karkonosze Mountains Poland (image public domain) 

Beata spent her childhood summers at her grandmother's cottage in these mountains.


  1. This looks really yummy Sherry! I love barley and will definitely give this soup a go. I often make a barley risotto so it will be good to try something new.

    1. I love barley too Jem. This is a very comforting soup and I loved how you just chuck it all in and let it simmer away while you do other stuff😃

  2. Mmmm - barley adds such a lovely chewy nuttiness to dishes - this looks so comforting and warming for the winter to have here in NZ!

    1. Hi rachel
      Yes barley is so tasty and just right for cold winters nights.


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