For winter moments at home: Barley Soup (Minestrone di Orzo)

Barley Soup, or Minestrone di Orzo traces back to centuries ago. As we know, barley is an ancient grain, hardier than many others, and it  grows up to considerable heights, ca. 1700 meters, which is an altitude at which many  grains experience difficulty growing up. This is the reason why barley was used in mountain’s areas in Northen Italy and from this fact originated most of the deligthful recipes involving this noble grain.  Many farmers in the mountains around Vicenza grow nowadays a very good quality barley, and the following is one of their interesting barley-soup. Tradition said to use the broth obtained from boiling a “cotechino“, but if it is hard to find just substitute with some regular meat broth, also much easier to digest! For 4 servings we will need:


  • 2 1/2 quarts (2 1/2 liters) broth from meat
  • 4 ounces (100 g) pearled barley
  • 1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • An egg yolk


  1. Rinse the barley well, meaning MANY times. Set the meat broth to heat in a pot, and when it reaches a boil, add the barley and stir it all.
  2. Cook the barley covered , over a very low flame. It will cook for ca. 4 hours, stirring  often to prevent the barley to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. When the barley is soften, remove the pot from the fire. Prepare some butter bits and melt it in the soup, together with the egg yolk and the cheese.
  4. Mix well and serve. If it results to dry because the liquid evaporated all as the soup cooked, add a bit more boiling water or broth.


Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

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