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Recipe for family meals :

Vegetable and Pearl Barley Broth

Like most busy mothers, Sian Blunos wanted to feed her baby well, but as a trained chef, working alongside her Michelin-starred chef husband, she didn’t have a lot of free time. This is one of the recipes she has created and published in her book entitled Cooking for Coco - to find out more have a look at the articler under Interesting Bites <click here>

"Non-meat and vegetable dishes alone can provide your child with a varied and nutritious diet . . . they make good use of available seasonal produce. This winter recipe uses naturally sweet swede and turnip, which is a great source of energy ".


1/2 cup pearl barley
1 ounce butter
1 tablespoon oil
6 ounces leeks, washed and chopped
3 ounces swede, peeled and chopped
3 ounces turnips, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 pint unsalted vegetable stock or water
2 ounces frozen peas

  • In a bowl, wash the pearl barley under cold running water to get rid of any ‘grittiness’ from the husks. Pour the barley into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and empty the water. Rinse the pearl barley in cold water again and then strain. This will get rid of some of the starch in the pearl barley.
  • In the meantime, melt butter and oil in a saucepan. Add the leeks, swede and turnips and sweat for about 2 minutes. Add the pearl barley and tomato purée and just enough water or unsalted vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes. if required. The mixture needs to have quite a thick consistency.
  • Add the peas, cover the saucepan and continue to simmer until the pearl barley is very soft. This should take about another 5 minutes, but the older the pearl barley, the longer it takes to soften.
  • Strain the vegetable and pearl barley mixture over a bowl and reserve the liquid. Blend the mixture in a food processor, adding more of the liquid gradually to reach the correct texture. For older babies, just mash the mixture.
  • Leave on the side to cool. Divide into portions and serve or freeze.

Technique Tip:

With most of these recipes you can use a food processor or blender to produce a puréed mixture. However, if you are using potatoes, you should add them as small dice just before serving. If they are blended, the starch they contain causes them to break down into a gluey mess.

As your baby grows and has more teeth, you can mash or chop the food instead. The textures will encourage your baby to chew. You will be the best judge of when you can start to do this.

Preparation time: 1 hour
Makes 6 - 8 portions

Sian Blunos

© Cooking for Coco, Sian Blunos 2003