A warm hug…

by Sunita on December 15, 2008

Winter has truly and deeply  settled in our neck of the woods. Although our region does not experience the extreme cold, this year has definitely been colder than the last couple of years. Actually, according to recent reports, it has been the coldest start to winter since the last 30 years! So, gloomy , grey skies, bare trees, chilly winds, hard, frozen grounds and of course, people wrapped in layers of warm clothing are what meets the eye and skin,  when one steps out of the house.

Stepping inside the house from the biting cold, there is nothing like being greeted with a warm bowl of stew. Preparing pots of warm flavoursome stews and later sharing them with the family, cupping one’s hands around the bowl…yes it feels like you’ve just received a warm hug.

The following Vegetable and pearl barley stew is one which I make quite frequently during this season. It is very simple to make, but is aromatic at the same time. A number of combinations of vegetables can be added to it. I just throw in whatever I have at the time. I also made some crispy salmony bites to go along with it. They added a nice bite, and I served them on top of the stew like croutons. I love to make this stew with pearl barley, but as I did not have enough, I added some arborio rice as well. You can make this with either of them, it comes out nice and creamy. The salmon is baked, so the stew can be made while the former is baking. Are you a vegetarian? No problem, just give the fish a miss…the stew is completely vegetarian.

Here’s how I made it -

What’s needed-

For the stew-

2 large carrots, chopped

1C peas

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tblsp of dried oregano

2 tblsp of sundried tomato paste

1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp crushed red chillies(more or less)

2 bay leaves

1C pearl barley + 1C arborio rice

1/2 tsp paprika

10 C of stock (may need a little more later)

salt to taste

For the salmony croutons-

12-14 bite sized pieces of salmon (preferably from fillet)

pinch of turmeric powder

1 tsp dried oregano

salt to taste

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

How to-

  1. Pre heat the oven at 250 deg C. Line a baking tray with foil.
  2. Mix the salmon with the rest of the ingredients and arrange on the lined tray, skin side down.
  3. Place the tray in the top rack of the pre heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Check to avoid burning.
  4. Let the fish cool on the tray for a minute and then, gently peel them from the foil.
  5. While the salmon bakes, make the stew. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onon, carrots, garlic and peas and stir for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the rice, barley, oregano,chilli, turmeric, paprika, bay leaves and sun dried tomato paste and stir for 6-7 minutes, or till most of the moisture evaporates, and the grains are well coated with the spices.
  7. Pour 5 C of the stock and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer till the rice and barley are done. Keep stirring in between,  adding the rest of the stock  gradually. Do not let it dry out, and add some more stock if needed.
  8. Serve hot and top with the salmony croutons, if making any.

This is one stew that I make over and over again , and we never seem to tire. The salmony croutons are a delight too. We can’t stop at nibbling on  a few of these crispy delights even before they make their way to the stew. They really form a nice snack as well. I love the aroma that wafts through the house as I make the stew. It is a very hearty dish.There is so much of grey outside…but this surely brightens up our dining table.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosa December 15, 2008 at 12:33 pm

A wonderful stew! Healthy, comforting and delicious! I love those salmon croutons…



Thanks Rosa :-)


2 CurryLeaf December 15, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Wow and wow.Perfect for winter.Thanks for the recipe.I have barley and was thinking of finishing it off.Thanks

You’re welcome…do give it a try :-)


3 Happy Cook December 15, 2008 at 3:57 pm

The stew looks so yumm especially for a winter evening.
I would first eat the salmon pieces :-)
Here to weather is so cold that I go out and come back home as fast as possible :-)

Thanks…we all gorged on the salmon ;-)


4 Kalai December 15, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Lovely stew and I like the idea of salmon croutons! Out of cuiosity, how did you shoot the last pic with the spoon in the air? I always have issues with the spoon shaking. Thanks! :)

Thanks…and that’s me holding the spoon with one hand and clicking with the other :-)


5 RedChillies December 15, 2008 at 10:20 pm

It is extremely cold here too. In fact, a stark contrast from yesterday when we could go out in t-shirts. However everything cahnged at night. The pictures are just beautiful and hard to resist even for vegetarians like me :-)

Now, that is a very quick change, isn’t it? Here, it is even gloomier than yesterday.
And thanks…the stew is completely vegetarian, as i mentioned, so it is for you too :-)


6 Sylvia December 15, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Very comfort and delicious recipe. I love it and bookmark for owr winter
Great blog as well

Thank you Sylvia…do try the recipe :-)


7 Nags December 16, 2008 at 1:32 am

lovely pics, and i envy the cold weather (a bit) cuz in Singapore, we have the same weather year round!

Thanks…I agree, the change of seasons, however gloomy, does have it’s own charm.


8 Soma December 16, 2008 at 2:12 am

Its below freezing here.. very unusual for a texas temp. & this soup looks so right for tonite. Love the idea of salmony croutons!

Thanks..Do give the recipe a try :-)


9 Nirmala December 16, 2008 at 3:36 am

mmm…really a warm hug…I do want some hugs too!

Aww, if only you were near ! Take care sweetie.


10 Gretchen Noelle December 16, 2008 at 1:07 pm

This looks like a perfect soup for winter. Love the idea of salmon croutons!!

It is really hearty…thanks :-)


11 indosungod December 16, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Thanks for the Hug, just what is needed for this cold dreary winter.
Ooh the salmon croutons look so tempting, I might add a bit of chili powder to mine :)

You’re most welcome, dear ISG, and of course, make them as hot as you want :-)


12 Maya December 17, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Salmon croutons look especially tasty!

Thanks :-)


13 Jayalakshmi December 19, 2008 at 2:50 pm

I got to your blog through Telegraph write up. I liked what I saw!. The photgraph of the soup is very warm and inviting.. I will give it a try, with some variations of course (vegetarian). I like the way barley is used in the soup recipe.

Our south indian food does not have much use for barley in cooking. Therefore it is all the more exciting to try a new soup.


Welcome Jayalakshmi…do give the recipe a try….you just need to avoid the fish…the stew is completely vegetarian :-)


14 Kevin December 30, 2008 at 2:08 am

The soup sounds tasty and the salmon croutons are a great idea!


15 Madiha Ali January 16, 2009 at 2:26 am

Hi Sunita,

I am from Canada and winters are severe here…
I was searching for a good stew recipe n got ur`s , I like this recipe but have one question … my son is only 16mnths old was wondering if I could start him on seafood …although I will try the stew without the fish right now but for later on would like to introduce him to seafood ..plz do let me know what is a safe age to start kids with seafood…

Awaiting your reply



16 Sunita January 16, 2009 at 7:44 am

Hi Madiha…nice to see you here. Regarding seafood, and children, I am no expert on that. As a mom, for my two kids, I started quite young..I guess it all depends from household to household and of course the particular child. I was on my own too, so did what i thought was best, and how my children reacted to certain foods.


17 Meg Wolff January 24, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Hi Sunita,
I came by way of Cynthia’s blog today. Your soup looks great and I love your idea of salmon bites.


18 Sunita January 24, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Thanks Meg :-)


19 Malar Gandhi January 30, 2009 at 9:32 pm

First time to ur blog, wow…you have whole lot of yummy creation…wih to browse leisurely…this soup is very inviting, bet it tasted good. Must be nice for this cold weather.


20 sampada March 12, 2009 at 5:43 pm

stew looks so delicious.. here in chicago it’s extremely cold…perfect recipe……hmmm lot of ingredients. i always have a hard time to find ingredients..anyway i recently explored a great resource where i can find all the ingredients http://www.myethnicworld.com. thanks for the recipe…forgot to say thought of salmon bites is great.


21 weena December 15, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Hi,Is there an alternative for sundried tomatoes….infact Iam in the process of making the soup…:)…..let me use fresh tomato for now….tks.


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