There are weather warnings here in Dubai. Warnings that ‘inclement’ weather is looming. This could mean drizzle – maybe even torrential drizzle. Almost certainly a breeze.
Without any drainage on the roads (why bother when it only happens about 5 times a year?) there’ll be floods – well, water up to the level of the kerb at least. And there will be panic … panic and excitement. Driving with hazard lights on will be common place and the locals will leave work early. Emails have already been sent out from schools warning of the impending inclement stuff and the teachers will know that even a drop or two of the wet stuff will mean that the children will go a tiny bit bonkers.
Me, I’ve pulled my lovely, cuddly Banana Republic jumper out of the wardrobe – a jumper that I bought in London last year in the hope that there may, at some point, be a day chilly enough to enjoy it. Even my lovely husband rocked a ‘light pullover’ today. Things are serious. Regardless of the weather, our teenage boys have gone off to school still in shirt sleeves. Their aim is to go through their entire Dubai school career without wearing a jumper. They’re doing well so far. And as for Hella, the ‘cold’ weather is the perfect opportunity to explore every inclement fashion angle – by this evening there’ll be tights, Ugg boots, scarves – the lot.
In Dubai terms, this is perfect weather for hunkering down, watching black and white movies (although the kids would have an opinion about that) and hugging a mug of warming soup. And there’s nothing that says a drop of rain more than this gorgeous Lamb and Barley Big Soup. This, my friends, is a big, snuggly cuddle in a bowl. It will warm the cockles of your heart and lift your wintry spirits too.
And here’s why this cosy dish will be your new best friend –
- As you’ve come to expect – this is easy to make. No fancy skills required here.
- This is scrumptious stuff and a bit nostalgic too … like your mother used to make – or wished she had.
- It’s universally appealing – from kids to grandparents.
- This is proper chunky soup – big chunks, serious chunks, man-sized chunks. Ggggrrr.
- A pan of this soup on the hob will make your kitchen smell as friendly and welcoming as it gets.
- It will reheat well – although you will probably need to add a little extra liquid when you warm it up. Water is fine.
- Let’s be clear – as soup goes, this is not a ‘looker’. That’s not to say that it’s ugly but it’s more likely to be described as having a great personality than as being drop dead gorgeous. But this is no fashion show – this is comfort eating. Serious business.
Lovely in a bowl, welcome in a mug, handy in a food flask – go forth and get warm …. for tomorrow may be sunny again.
- a drizzle of olive oil
- 200g (7oz) lamb fillet, trimmed of any fat and cut into small pieces
- ½ large onion, finely chopped
- 50g (2oz) pearl barley
- 600g (1lb 5oz) baby new potatoes (the waxy type), cut into chunky slices
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 litre (1¾ pints) lamb or beef stock
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 100g (4oz) green beans, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- a handful of parsley, finely chopped
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Season the lamb, then fry for a few minutes until browned a little. Add the onion and the barley and gently fry for 1 minute.
- Now add the potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, stock and thyme sprig and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the pearl barley is cooked.
- Ladle about a quarter of the soup into a separate bowl and purée with a stick blender (or put into a normal blender and blitz until smooth). Add the puréed soup back into the chunky soup and combine.
- Now add the green beans and simmer gently for 3-5 minutes or until the beans are cooked.
- Taste to check the seasoning and serve garnished with some chopped parsley.