Pumpkin, silverbeet and barley soup (Photo: Emma Boyd)
Pumpkin, silverbeet and barley soup (Photo: Emma Boyd)

KaiJune 28, 2020

Recipe: Pumpkin, silverbeet and barley soup

Pumpkin, silverbeet and barley soup (Photo: Emma Boyd)
Pumpkin, silverbeet and barley soup (Photo: Emma Boyd)

Soup season is here! This flavoursome spiced pumpkin number is bulked up with the addition of grains and hearty greens.

We’ve had four days of heavy rain, and this morning as we drove up the driveway on the way out to school, the sun finally came out and the top of Taranaki Maunga revealed itself, covered in a thick blanket of snow. I’ve enjoyed the arrival of winter. The daily jaunt to the woodshed to collect wood for the fire. The crisp, frosty mornings and even the bare branches of our fruit trees and the stillness before the bud burst of spring. What better weather for eating soup! We’ve made a few batches over the last week or so: a miso-spiked vegetable soup and the one that follows, a warming, smoked paprika-spiked pumpkin, silverbeet and barley soup. Make sure you use a good flavoursome pumpkin and if you don’t have silverbeet, then spinach or kale will do just as well. If you don’t have barley, then it would be just as delicious with the addition of lentils, buckwheat or even Israeli couscous or risoni. Just make sure whatever you add is already cooked before you put it in the soup. 


Serves 6-8

  • 4 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 3kg pumpkin
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup cooked barley*
  • 160g silverbeet, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • coriander to serve
  • lime wedges to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Put 2 tablespoons of the ghee or oil in a large roasting tin then put into the oven to melt, making sure to keep an eye on it so that the ghee doesn’t burn.

Peel, deseed and cut the pumpkin into bite-sized pieces. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and add the pumpkin, then return to the oven and roast for 35 minutes or until soft and golden.

While the pumpkin is cooking, heat the remaining ghee or oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and over a medium heat and sauté the onion until soft and golden and just beginning to stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes before adding the spices and cooking for another minute or so.

Next add the pumpkin, stock and barley, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, put on the lid and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, add the silverbeet and cook for a further 5 minutes or until wilted. Serve garnished with chopped coriander and a good squeeze of lime juice. 

*I soak my grains in acidulated water overnight (or even for 24 hours) before cooking them. Acidulated water is simply water with either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added to it. This helps to neutralise the phytic acid found in grains, which can block the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Simply cover your grains in warm water about 3-4cm above the top of the grains, add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar, cover and leave in a warm place overnight. If my oven is still warm from cooking dinner, I leave my grains in there. Not only does this method make the grains more digestible, they also cook faster and are softer when eaten. 

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