Karl’s Ham and Barley Soup

I do not always look on-line for ideas for dinner. Sometimes, I simply say, “What do I have in my kitchen?” I had spent too much of today planning my birthday/Chinese New Year’s feast. When I pulled my head out of the computer, I noticed that it was time to start making dinner, before a hungry wife and daughter appeared on my door step.

Karl’s Ham and Barley Soup

Karl’s Ham and Barley Soup

Tonight’s soup was a spur of the moment, “What can I make in an hour?” situation. I had half of a mistakenly defrosted ham steak. I used half of it for that ham on ham & beans last night, so any bean dish was right out. I briefly considered eggs, ham and rice, but Eilene and I would like that far more that Jan would. Finally, I considered barley; it is not just for Scotch broth. Anywhere you can use rice, you can use barley.

I have noticed that many of the soups I make are either short on green vegetables or the vegetables are cooked to death. Over-cooking vegetables tends to destroy many of their vitamins. Lately, I have been making a conscious effort to add the high vitamin greens at the last minute, not as a garnish, but as a last minute nutrient boost to the dish.

Karl’s Ham and Barley Soup


2 Tbs. butter
1 cup yellow onion, coarsely chopped
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup celery
1 cup cabbage
3 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ tsp. black pepper, fresh cracked
2 cans low sodium chicken broth (about 3½ cups)
½ cup of barley

1 lb. ham, half inch cubed
1 cup herb salad, ¼ cup per individual serving


1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot and sauté the onions with the salt until they are starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.

Tip: The salt helps release the moisture from the onions and causes the onions to fry, rather than stew in their own liquid.

2. Add the celery, carrots and cabbage and continue sautéing for four more minutes.

3. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot. Put the garlic in the hole in the center and sauté the garlic until fragrant, about one minute. Mix in the rest of the vegetables.

4. Add the pepper, chicken broth, barley, and one cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer for 40 minutes.

5. Add the ham and continue simmering, covered, for ten minutes, until the barley is tender.

Tip: Fish out a grain of barley and bit it to see if it is al dente (to the tooth).

6. Add a quarter cup of herb salad to each individual soup bowl and pour the hot soup over the greens.

7. Stir the greens into the soup and let it stand for three minutes.

Tip: This rest give the hot soup some time to cook the herbs.

8. Serve immediately.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Pork, Soups

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