Cabbage & Barley soup with pickled lemons

Put 100 g of pearl barley in a pan with a couple of inches of boiling water and set to simmer for about 45 mins.

In the meantime peel and chop a medium sized onion and a couple of large garlic cloves (or several small cloves). Peel and dice a large potato.

Chop a pointed cabbage and a few leaves of Cavolo Nero or spring greens. (You can use any combination of cabbage you like). I cut the pointed cabbage in half and then each half into 4 pieces longways and then into 1/2 cm strips cross ways.

Put a good slug of olive oil (or any vegetable oil) in a large pan and gently fry the onion for about 10 minutes or until it starts to colour. Then add the potato and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes. Now add around 1 litre of boiling beef stock (I used 2 Kallo Beef Stock Cubes) or vegetable stock if you prefer and bring back to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potato can be squashed with the back of a spoon.

I then gave the potato a bit of a mash in the pan just to break them up. You don’t want them puréed so don’t use a blender.

Add the shredded cabbage and cook for another 15 minutes or so depending on what variety of cabbage you’ve used. You want the cabbage well done not al dente.

Now you need a pickled lemon of the Moroccan variety. I make these at home (see below) but you can buy them ready made. I took a half a large pickled lemon, cleaned out and discarded the flesh and then finely chopped the skin and added this to the soup.

The barley should be done by now, so drain and add to the soup. Add some more water if you need to and season with salt and lots of pepper.

Now you can eat it.

Pickled Lemons:
You need a clean jar with a tight fitting lid, big enough to get your lemons into but not so big that you can’t fill it to the top with lemons and juice.
You also need enough un-waxed lemons to fill your jar and a bag of course sea salt.
Give the lemons a good wash. I use a nail brush.
Cut each lemon in half crossways and then cut each half into 4 segments from the flesh side but without going right through the end. Then push lots of the sea salt into the cuts. Now put it in your jar. Repeat for all the lemons, squashing as many as you can into your jar. Don’t be timid because you want it tightly packed. Add lemon juice to fill the jar to the top and tighten the lid.
Put the jar somewhere cool, a wine cooler is good. (an ordinary fridge also seems to work ok and they might also work just left in a cupboard).
After a day check the jar is full to the top and if not add some more juice. Then leave for at least a month. I keep them in the fridge after I’ve started using a jar.

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