- 1 onion
- 1 celery stick
- 1 carrot
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 400g chestnut mushrooms
- 2 garlic cloves
- A handful of flat leaf parsley
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- A handful of thyme, leaves only
- 150g pearl barley
- 1 bay leaf
- 600ml boiling water
- 10cl soya cream
1. Peel and finely chop the onion. Trim the dry ends off the celery stick, then finely slice it. Trim and scrub the carrot (no need to peel unless you want to), then dice it.
2. Warm a large pan over a medium heat for 1 min, then add 1 tbsp olive oil and the chopped veg. Season with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Fry, stirring often, for 8 mins till the veg start to look glossy and pick up a little colour (but not too much – if the veg start to brown, turn the heat down).
3. While the veg fry, thickly slice the mushrooms. Stir the mushrooms into the veg and fry for a further 3-4 mins, stirring every so often, till the mushrooms are juicy.
4. While the mushrooms fry, peel and crush or grate the garlic. Finely chop the parsley stalks (save the leaves for later). Crumble the vegetable stock cube into a heatproof jug. Pour over 600ml boiling water and stir to dissolve the stock cube.
5. Stir the garlic and parsley stalks into the veg. Drop in the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf. Cook and stir for 1 min.
6. Tip the pearl barley into the pan and stir well. Pour in the hot vegetable stock. Return to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
7. After 20 mins, the barley should be tender, with a slight bite, and most of the stock should have been absorbed. If it is still a bit too hard, add another 100-150ml water and simmer for another 5 mins. Fish the thyme sprigs and bay leaf out of the pan. Pour in half the carton of soya cream. Warm through for 2 mins, stirring.
8. Taste the barley and add more salt and pepper if needed. Ladle the barley risotto into warm bowls and garnish with chopped parsley leaves to serve.