Recipe: Pumpkin, Barley & Sage Soup

Fall = Soup.

It’s really that simple.  In my mind, as the temperature drops and the nights turn chilly, nothing is more comforting than soup.  It also doesn’t hurt that we have been cooking soup by the gallon for school.  However, when I read this recipe in the October issue of Better Homes & Gardens, it was instant love.  The flavor melding of pumpkin and sage with the texture of the barley is a wonder interplay that is delightful not only in taste but mouth-feel.

My one caveat for this recipe is that it uses chicken bouillon, which depending on what brand you have can be extremely salty and artificial tasting.  I tried a variety of versions without the bouillon, substituting reduced homemade chicken stock (chicken de glace) and simply leaving it out.  Out of the three variations, I found that the one without the bouillon lacked a certain bite (which I think was salt) but could be lifted with a hint of orange zest. The version with the chicken de glace was good but required considerable on your part to reduce the stock.  So my suggestion is to use a pinch of orange/lemon zest if you want to reduce your salt intake.

Finally, I strongly encourage you to include the green apples as your topping.  The recipe states you should add sliced apples, but I found the slices awkward since they didn’t fit on the spoon.  Instead I did a small dice of apples, which I also think looked nicer.  I also added some slivered sage and toasted walnut to the garnish for additional crunch and flavor.

This may find its way into my Thanksgiving table as a first course……..


Servings: Four


8 ounces cooked andouille or smoked sausage links, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sage

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup quick cooking barley

1 teaspoon instant bouillon granules or 1/4 cup reduced chicken stock

1 15-ounce can of pumpkin

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

4 cups water

1 Granny Smith or similar tart green apple

Toasted walnuts for garnish

Extra sage, for garnish


– In 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven cook sausage, onion and sage in hot oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Onions should be translucent and sausage lightly browned.

– Add barley, 4 cups of water and bouillon or chicken stock. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure barley does not scorch.

– Stir in pumpkin, maple syrup and vinegar. Heat through.  Season with salt and pepper.

– Ladle in bowls and add garnish with apples, walnuts and sage.


Canned pumpkin: Be sure to purchase canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling – two very different things!  Second, if you are a purist, you can roast your own pumpkin would be taste infinitely better than any canned product on the market, but for the sake of time, do yourself a favor and stick with the canned stuff – while not perfect, it’s still pretty tasty.

Finishing with Cream: If you want a smoother consistency and mouth-feel add a bit of cream to the soup before serving.  Just know that the additional cream may thin out the soup slightly.


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