Get my newest recipe via email:

Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon

We begin with a simple aromatic barley broth. On top go ruby radicchio ribbons and a magic relish–of salty preserved lemon, dried ancho chile and garlic. Next, dollop tangy cream, and a final sprinkle of chopped cilantro. Stirred in, all those goodies turn the previously unassuming broth into elegant slurpable soup–Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon.

Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon in soup bowl with relish

This soup is adapted from a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel.

The preserved lemon and chile relish in the Chicory Soup drew me to this particular recipe–I happened to have a jar of preserved-in-salt lemons waiting in the corner of my fridge. Heidi calls for the Moroccan lemons in her Grated Cucumber Salad, and for her Dried Fruit Salad—so if you purchase your preserved lemons you’ll find more ways to feature their distinctive flavor.

I’d like to cook my way through every recipe in this cookbook, traveling each chapter, exploring pantry essentials, following Heidi from her San Francisco home, and on to Morocco, Japan, Italy, France, and India. Maybe I will… Right now I’m content to read her chapter introductions and recipe headnotes–Heidi’s enchanting prose alone makes me hungry.

Toppings for Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon

Most of the recipe ingredients are familiar and easy to find. You might have to mail order a few specialty ingredients, particularly a couple for the Japan Pantry, unless you live in a big city. As with this chicory soup, some of the recipes include dairy or eggs.

Loyally, I follow Heidi’s vegetarian blog, 101 Cookbooks, where she’s been giving us glimpses of this cookbook for more than a year. When the chance to review her new cookbook came, I jumped. I received my copy from Blogging for Books–the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Near and Far cookbook cover for Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon

I’ve already whipped up, shot photos, and devoured the Red Lentil Hummus in the “Near” (San Francisco) chapter. Are you ready for a garlicky smooth hummus recipe? Stay tuned—it’s the next one up–you’ll find it here on Letty’s Kitchen blog.

Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon one bowl overhead

Barley Soup with Chicory and Lemon recipe details:

  • I used crisp and slightly bitter radicchio chicory in my chicory soup. According to Elizabeth Schneider’s Essential Reference, Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini, radicchio (rah-DEEK-eeyo) is the “Italian word for all members of the chicory clan.” Year-round, in well-stocked supermarkets, you should be able to find the round compact “Chianti-colored” Chiogga radicchio.

Preserved lemon, ancho chile and garlic for Chicory Soup relish

  • The preserved lemon relish calls for just one ancho chile. A bag of ancho chiles is inexpensive–keep the extra chiles in your pantry, ready to make authentic red enchilada sauce, and for flavoring simmering soups, pot beans, and homemade vegetable broth. Before drying, anchos are poblanos, the chiles often used for chiles rellenos. Dried ancho chiles are mild, with wrinkle-y skin and raisin-y fruity flavor.

Make it a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook yourself a delicious soup!

Thanks for being here. To get my latest recipe posts and exclusive monthly newsletters, subscribe here. (I hate Spam too and will never share your email with anyone.)

  • Follow me on Instagram! It’s my favorite!
  • Peruse my Pinterest boards for more vegetarian recipe ideas.
  • Find daily vegetarian and healthy living ideas on my Facebook page.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a product via my link, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting Letty’s Kitchen.

5 from 1 vote
Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon
Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
Salty preserved lemon relish with chile and garlic, along with the pretty purple-red ribbons of radicchio chicory, plus tangy crème fraîche and chopped cilantro, bring unique flavor, texture and color—you’ll absolutely adore this fun soup.
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion , quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons Real Salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme , or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 7 cups water (see note)
  • 1 large dried ancho chile
  • 1 large clove garlic , smashed
  • 1 small whole preserved lemon , rinsed, seeded and minced, about 1/4 cup
  • 3 cups radicchio or other chicory , roughly cut in ¼-inch by 1-inch ribbons
  • Crème fraîche
  • Chopped cilantro leaves
  1. Rinse the barley. Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil, add the barley, and simmer 30 to 35 minutes, until the barley is tender. Drain, reserving the water to use as part of the chicory soup water.
  2. While the barley cooks, start the soup. In a large pot over medium flame, heat the first 3 tablespoons of oil and sauté the onion, celery, and salt. Stir frequently for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onions and celery are soft but not browned. Add the bay leaf, thyme and 7 cups of water, including the leftover barley cooking water. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender. Stir in the cooked barley. Continue to cook an additional 10 to 20 minutes, until the starchy barley has slightly thickened the broth. Remove and discard the bay leaf and the fresh thyme sprigs. Taste for season, adding more salt if necessary.
  3. While the soup is simmering, make the lemon-chile relish. Start by softening the chile in a dry cast iron skillet. When the chile is warm, using scissors, cut off the stem and cut the chile in half. Remove and discard the seeds and any large veins. Chop the chile into very small pieces, almost crumbles. In a small skillet heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil, the chile bits, and garlic. Toast the chile but don’t let the garlic burn. After about 5 minutes, the chile should be somewhat softened and its flavor will have infused the oil. Remove from the heat and smash the garlic with the back of a fork. Stir in the preserved lemon.
  4. To serve, toss the radicchio ribbons with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the dressed radicchio, dabs of lemon chile relish and crème fraîche, plus a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.
Recipe Notes

Reserve the extra barley cooking water to use as part of the total water.


  • kathryn deckert

    Hi Letty – Happy Thanks. Haven’t written in a while – still loving getting your recipes. My vegan family will be here in Moab for the holiday – serving your roasted vegies and pumpkin muffins plus about 7 other vegie dishes. Had the vegies for a ladies night down here. Perfect for our dinner. Thanks for all the entertaining prose also. xoxof Kathryn PS doing blue apron also. Reply · 19 November, 2015

  • […] an avid vegetarian cook who likes to explore and cook with new ingredients, this is your find. Read my review of the vegetarian cookbook […] Reply · 23 November, 2015

  • […] proteins and grains and greens. Sometimes I’ll begin with beans, other times with something like barley, or farro. And then I’ll throw in a bunch of chopped leafy greens at the very […] Reply · 9 February, 2016

  • […] Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon by Letty’s Kitchen […] Reply · 1 March, 2016

  • […] Chicory Soup with Barley and Lemon by Letty’s Kitchen […] Reply · 1 April, 2016

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.