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Barley soup

from Galen, quoted in Orbiasius’ Medical Compilations

about text

Original recipe:

Translation: Pearl barley is suitably prepared when it is swelled to its fullest extent during boiling, then after this put on a gentle flame until it has wholly converted into juice. There it is mixed with it vinegar at that moment when it has completely swelled; when it is carefully boiling one must add fine salt, but not too much, for edibility; and if you wish to add olive oil at once from the start, you will not harm the cooking; it is not necessary to mix in anything else but a little leek and dill, and these right from the beginning


  • 5 oz pearl barley
  • 1 leek
  • 1 tsp. dried (or fresh) dill weed
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt


  • Soak the barley overnight.
  • Drain.
  • Slice the leek.
  • Place the barley, leek, dill, and olive oil in a pan with 2 pints of water.
  • Bring to a boil, add the vinegar, and simmer gently for an hour.
  • Stir occasionally and check that there is sufficient water.
  • This soup is supposed to be very thick, so add water a little at a time.
  • Before serving, check that the soup is suitably seasoned with salt.
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