Helen's Vegetable Soup

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This is my favourite soup for every day eating. I make it at least once a fortnight all winter.
It freezes well.
I grate all of my vegetables in the food processor with the grater attachment in place. The spinach I chop in the food processor with a regular blade in place.


  • olive oil
  • 3 pieces beef shin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 brown onions, finely chopped or grated
  • 6 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 large parsnip, grated
  • 1 small swede, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 litres water (or a mix of water and liquid stock)
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 bag spinach, tough stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley


Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a stock pot over a medium – high heat, brown shin well on both sides.
Reduce heat and add tomato paste along with onions, carrots, parsnip, swede, garlic and celery. Add approximately 1/4 cup olive oil and salt to taste and allow vegetables to sweat over a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring at times.
Add water and pearl barley and cook soup at a gentle simmer for at least 3 hours. Several hours into cooking add the chopped spinach and parsley.
Taste regularly to check seasonings.
Serve garnished with extra chopped parsley.

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3 thoughts on “Helen's Vegetable Soup

  1. Yum. This is my favourite sort of comfort food, just what my late Mum made so often. Sadly my sons have not inherited the soup gene. I could eat this sort of soup several times a week. This is a big amount and would need a pot bigger than I have. I’ve found it hard to find a big stock pot that works on my lovely induction cooktop

  2. Dear Helen
    I made your favourite vegetable soup this week, buying beef bones from the butcher and they were fresh with lots of chunky meat on them. I browned them well and added the grated vegetables, (easily done in the food processor), pearl barley etc, and simmered three hours….mmmmmm. All the vegetables were from our own garden except the swede. The recipe filled my big stock pot and I put several containers in the freezer. Meanwhile we devoured this gorgeous, rich, thick soup with ciabatta rolls, by the log fire, watching TV while the rain poured down outside. After 50 years of marriage I have made thousands of soups but this good vege one would take some beating. I am recipe mad, love all yours, and keep trying new ones. Love the radio show too.
    There are some nice things about winter! Thank you Helen.