A hearty winter soup that is great served with a dense rye bread or crusty sourdough.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon fennel seeds or ground fennel
pinch chilli flakes
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 x 400 gram tin crushed Italian tomatoes
½ cup pearl barley
500 grams crown pumpkin, peeled and diced 2 cm pieces
2 handfuls baby spinach
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup pesto
Parmesan for grating
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, carrot, parsnip, garlic, fennel and chilli flakes with a good pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Add the stock, tomatoes, barley and pumpkin and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer for 25 minutes until the barley is tender. Stir in the spinach, lemon zest and juice.
To serve: Ladle the soup into warm bowl and top with a spoonful of pesto and shaved Parmesan.
Pantry note: Pesto is available in the chilled section of the supermarket.