With veggies fresh from the winter garden, chewy roasted barley for a bit of body and a herby, spicy pesto for an extra kick of flavour, this soup will have you wishing that winter would never end. The recipe is by Paul West from River Cottage Australia appearing on Foxtel’s LifeStyle FOOD. For extra inspiration, watch Paul making the soup here.

Ingredients
For the soup
1 cup (220g) pearl barley
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 spring onions or 2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 litres homemade chicken stock*
500g broccoli, stalks sliced and cut into florets
1/4 white cabbage (400g), finely shredded
2 cups (400g) fresh peas

For the pesto
4 cups fresh parsley leaves
4 small red chillies, seeded and chopped**
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup (100g) walnut halves
1 cup (125g) grated Parmesan
1 1/3 cup (330ml) extra virgin olive oil

Method
Roast the barley in a large frying pan until it smells nutty and it is a deep dark brown colour. This will take about 10 minutes, keep an eye on it though as it can quickly catch and burn.
Cook the barley in a large pan of lightly salted boiling water for 20 minutes until the barley is just soft. Drain well.
While the barley is cooking, heat the oil in a large pan, add the leeks and cook for 10 minutes or until the leeks are soft and golden.
Add the broccoli stalks, cabbage and cook for 5 minutes or until they start to soften
Stir the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until the broccoli stalks are tender. Add the broccoli florets, peas and barley and cook for 5 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
To make the parsley pesto, put the parsley, chilli, garlic, walnuts, parmesan and process until roughly chopped.
With the motor running, slowly add the oil until the pesto is thick.
Serve the vegetable soup topped with a generous dollop of pesto.

*Vegetarians can substitute chicken stock for vegetable stock.
**The amount of chilli you use in your pesto will depend on the heat of the chillis, so do a quick check first.