butternut soup with bayleaf barley

Some say buddernud, some say booternoot (voila), yet others say bu??ernu? (where ? is a glottal stop)…whatever, this soup melts in the mouth. And with the addition of barley has gorgeous chewy bits. At this time of year (Feb) this squash will have come from the southern hemisphere so not an ‘eat local’ choice. However, think of it as a looking forward to the opposite side of the year, August.

Ingredients serves 8

  • a butternut squash about 30cm long, peeled and cut into roughly 2 cm cubes
  • four small-medium potatoes (about 400g) scrubbed and cut into quarters
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
  • 5 or so flakes of dried chili (titchy pinch)
  • 10 turns of the black pepper mill
  • 2 tablespoons rape or hemp oil
  • 250g red lentils
  • about 2 litres boiled water

for the barley

  • 3/4 of a cup of wholegrain barley
  • 500ml water
  • 1 fresh bayleaf
  • olive oil to drizzle


  1. put all the soup ingredients except the water in a big pan, heat and stir, releasing the herb and spice aromas into the oil and veg. Do this til the veg begin to soften, about 8 minutes
  2. add the boiling water and heat the pan contents to a soft boil for 10 minutes.
  3. turn down the heat to lowest setting, set the lid ajar on top for 30 minutes or so, until squash and potatoes squash readily
  4. Use the hand blender to make a puree. Add salt to taste
  5. Before serving, add the juice of a lemon

to make the barley

  1. put the ingredients in a pan with a tight fitting lid
  2. heat on the lowest setting
  3. after 30 minutes check it isn’t sticking already
  4. turn off the heat, drizzle the olive oil, leave the pan for another good 30 minutes

To serve either mix in the barley to the blended soup or serve on top. This was an all time favourite of Thursday night students, one very chilly 8th Feb, after class.