Minestra d’orzo – Barley soup

Minestra d'Orzo

Another classic recipe I learnt from my late mother in law, Daria in Italy is Minestra d’Orzo translated Pearl Barley Soup. It’s a typical recipe from the region of Trentino Alto Adige and there are a hundred and one versions of it out there all equally delicious but I have stuck to her true rustic housewife’s version, simple and tasty. A warming vegetable broth perfect for the cold winter days we’re suffering at the moment, it’s cheap, wholesome and easy to prepare plus the family will love it.

Now here’s the funny bit, I ate all the minestra and forgot to take a photo, oops! Soooo I got onto Facebook and called on my good friend Max who runs a fabulous restaurant Malga Millegrobbe which sits at the top of a beautiful mountain and serves up good, wholesome, fresh food to the walkers, skiers, photographers, families and visitors who come by.

‘Have you got some Pearl barley soup on the menu right now?’


‘Can you serve one up and take a photo for me for my blog post tomorrow?

Five minutes later the photo there popped into my inbox and phew! Max saved the day for me ;)

He’s bound to notice the recipe below is slightly different to his and maybe he’ll let me know so I can add his alteration too. Please check out his Facebook page and Like it, write on his wall that I sent you and should you ever be in the area go eat there, you’ll be thanking me after for a long long time.

Here’s a photo taken in the area around the restaurant – stunning

Minestra d’Orzo – Pearl Barley Soup

Ingredients for 4 people

1 onion finely chopped
1 carrot peeled and cut into small pieces
1 medium potato peeled and cut into small pieces
1 stick of celery cut into small pieces
1 courgette, cut into small pieces
100g pancetta cubed
100g pearl barley
1 -litre of meat stock
a knob of butter


  1. Melt the butter and fry the onion until it is soft and golden. Add the carrot, celery, potato and courgette and soften together.
  2. Add the pancetta (my mother in law would sometimes use a couple of pork ribs if she didn’t have pancetta)
  3. Add the washed pearl barley and stir together. My MIL would leave the barley in water overnight but today the barley sold in the supermarkets is ready to use.
  4. Add the stock to cover and simmer until the pearl barley is cooked (about an hour) stirring occasionally and adding more stock if it starts to look too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once cooked it’s ready to eat, dribble a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Other versions of Minestra d’Orzo

  • adding fagioli – borlotti beans along with the pearl barley
  • not adding the courgette
  • adding ‘il culetto del speck’ instead of pancetta

And of course it’s Foodie Friday when I invite all bloggers to add a recipe to the link up below and we make a weekly recipe book for the internet world to be inspired by. If you’re looking for a tea time treat January’s prompt was Sweet pastries and breads so head over to Lavender and Lovage to drool over the 25+ versions on the theme, you’ll spot my Mele in Camicia there too :)