Did you know that broccoli is native to Eastern Mediterranean countries? Cultivated in the time of the Roman Empire, broccolo, meaning the flowering crest of a cabbage in Italian, was introduced to England and America in the 1700s. Related to the cabbage, the entire broccoli, stem and flower can be eaten either raw or cooked. My children enjoy it raw, but I am always looking for some flavour. Usually a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of herbs is enough, but I think I will be experimenting with the some of the flavours of Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt from now on. This soup is made creamy by blending the pearl barley with the broccoli and a hit of citrus and mint brings some Mediterranean mood to the dish.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 roughly diced onion
- 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 2 broccoli (head and stem) roughly cut into florets and stem sliced thinly
- vegetable stock
- 1 handful of pearl barley
- juice of one lemon
- small handful of mint, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan place the pearl barley and cover with twice the amount of water to barley and bring to the boil. Boil this while the broccoli soup is being made.
In a large saucepan over medium heat add olive oil, onions and garlic. Gently cook for about 3 minutes.
Add broccoli and cook over heat for 4 minutes, stirring the broccoli.
Pour enough stock over the broccoli to just cover. Bring to the boil then simmer until the broccoli is cooked through.
Once the barley is cooked, drain it and at it to the broccoli, reserving a few tablespoons for garnish.
Puree the broccoli soup either using a masher or blender to as smooth as you like.
In a small bowl or jar, mix the lemon juice, mint, olive oil, salt and pepper with the reserved pearl barley.
Serve a bowl with a drizzle of dressing and toasted pine nuts if you like.