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This soup, with its interesting blend of flavours and textures, is hearty and comforting on a raw winter day, and is suitable for vegans. The barley and split peas release their starch during their long simmer, the vegetables add their own flavours, and the spices provide warmth and depth. Any potential blandness is lifted by the addition of apple, and by the fresh hit of coconut, lime and coriander leaf at the end.

If you don’t have whole spices, you could use ground cumin and coriander. But the freshly ground seeds add a wonderful aroma - particularly if you dry fry them briefly before grinding in a pestle and mortar.

The creamed coconut could also be substituted for 150ml coconut milk.


  • 60g pearl barley
  • 60g yellow split peas
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon grated root ginger
  • 1 teaspoon grated root turmeric (or use ½ teaspoon dried turmeric)
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium cooking apple, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 900ml hot vegetable stock
  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 30g creamed coconut, chopped or grated
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves


Soak the barley and peas in plenty of cold water for a few hours, or overnight.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and gently fry the onion for 8 – 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger and spices to the pan and fry a little longer.

Add the chopped carrot, apple and chilli to the pan and stir over a low heat for 2 – 3 minutes.

Drain the peas and barley and stir them in too.

Pour in the hot stock and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the grains are tender.

Meanwhile, cut or break the cauliflower into very small florets. Add them to pan, and simmer for a further 10 minutes until just soft, but not mushy.

Add a little water if it seems too thick. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary, and a splash of lemon or lime juice if you like, to brighten the flavour.

Just before serving, dissolve the coconut cream in the hot water and stir into the soup with the coriander leaves. Serve with crusty bread.

Any leftover soup can be refrigerated once cool, and will keep for up to a week.

Posted in Erika’s Kitchen on Jan 01, 2024