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Last weekend Thomas, Anna, my brother Richard and I went to a living museum in Lindlar, Germany, about half an hour’s drive from Cologne. Here amidst the pastoral landscape is a large old settlement of Fachwerk houses and thatched roof barns, expansive fields filled with farm animals and vegetable/flower gardens. You can explore the inside of the houses and barns, some of which were museum like, and all were set to depict life as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries; decorated with antiquities to look as close as a house or barn may have appeared at that time. The people who work there could be found tilling the fields with horse drawn plows or offering rides on horse drawn carriages. There is a house where a woman is spinning wool which comes from the sheep just outside, or a man who has been making bread and is selling his loaves fresh from a large wood fire oven that takes up almost half of his old stone bakery and of course the turn of the last century themed house where a “Hausfrau” is fastidiously tending to the top of an old wood burning cook-stove as she stirs a pot which fills the air with the mouth watering scents of a delicious pearl barley and vegetable soup.

Old World Style Pearl Barley and Vegetable Soup

Recipe inspired by the soup at the Living Museum, Lindlar

  • 1.5 cups Fine Pearl Barley
  • 1.5 – 2 liters Vegetable stock*
  • 3 medium sized Onions
  • 1/2 a large or 1 small Celery Root
  • 5 Carrots
  • 2-3 large Potatoes or a handful of small Potatoes
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh Thyme
  • 3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil

* Alternatively you can use the same amount of water with vegetable bouillon.

Chop all the vegetables to the desired size. Heat a soup pot or large dutch oven over medium-high heat and coat with olive oil. When the oil is hot add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the celery root and carrots. Stir occasionally and cook for a few more minutes. Add the broth, pearl barley, potatoes and thyme. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Allow to simmer with the lid tilted and stir occasionally for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season to taste, remove the thyme stems and add water if at any time the soup becomes too thick. The soup should be creamy and thick but still soup-like.

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