RECIPE: Beetroot and Pearl Barley Soup with homemade bread

Richard Bainbridge has picked a winter-warming beetroot soup and some delicious homemade bread.


  • 3-4 medium (apple-sized) beetroot (about 500-600g, grated coarsely or chopped into small dice)
  • 500g/1lb 2oz ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped roughly
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Cooking Apple (Peeled, cored and roughly diced or coarsely grated)
  • 2 tbsp. Rapeseed oil
  • 500ml/161⁄2fl oz. Vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper


  1. Place the halved tomatoes in an ovenproof dish. Throw over the garlic and drizzle over half the olive oil.

  2. Roast for 25-30 minutes in a fairly hot oven (190C/375F/Gas 5) until soft and pulpy. Rub through a sieve to remove the skin and pips.

  3. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and sweat the onion for a few minutes until soft. Add the beetroot and the stock and bring to the boil. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer gently for 7-10 minutes until the beetroot is tender.

  4. Stir in the tomato purée, transfer the soup to a blender and process until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

  5. To serve cold, chill the soup in the fridge, then divide between six bowls. Using your fingers, crumble a little feta into each bowl. A sprinkling of grated raw beetroot makes a good garnish for the cold version.

  6. To serve hot, reheat the soup until thoroughly hot but not boiling. Divide between warm bowls. Serve with crusty bread.

Pearl Barley

  • 100g pearl barley (soaked overnight in water)
  • 1 leek (thinly sliced)
  • 50ml White wine (optional)
  • 1 litre Vegetable Stock
  • 50g Grated cheese
  • Knob salted butter
  • Few Roughly Chopped Herbs

Place a large pot on to a medium heat add the butter add the leeks and slowly start to sweat off. Once fully cooked add the pearl barley and white wine. Let the White wine reduce by 3/4.

Add enough vegetable stock to cover and stir well, let the barley cook a little like risotto so after 5mins you will have to add more stock and more until the barley is soft and tender. To finish the barley add the cheese, stir well and at the last moment add herbs, check seasoning. Serve a spoon full on top of the soup.

Homemade Bread

  • 500g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 3 tbsp. rapeseed oil
  • 300ml water

Mix 500g strong white flour, salt and the sachet of fast-action yeast in a large bowl (keeping the salt and yeast apart).

Make a well in the centre, then add rapeseed oil and water and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add another 1-2 tbsp. water and mix well.

Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for around 10 mins or into a stand mixer with the dough hook on a low speed for 4 mins.

Once the dough is satin-smooth, place it in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.

Line an oven tray with baking parchment. Knock back the dough (punch the air out) then gently mould the dough into one large ball or lots of smaller ones to make rolls (if you want to add a topping of poppy seeds etc. lightly brush with eggs wash and sprinkle over your toppings).

Place it on the baking parchment to prove for a further hour until doubled in size. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.

Cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a cooling rack.