Pre-Fast Barley Soup – Low GI and Slow Releasing Energy

vegetarian barley soup

Growing up, my mum used to make this most amazing barley soup once the cold weather hit. Being an old, Jewish recipe, it used lamb. Of course, being vegetarian, this is no longer an option and I have put off making the vegetarian version because I just never knew if it would be the same.

But as Yom Kippur comes in tomorrow evening, I wanted to have a hearty meal before the twenty-five hour fast, one that would give me slow-releasing energy and with food that is low GI (you can read Dr Axe’s explanation on glycemic-index here).

The best way to eat more low GI foods naturally is to adopt a low sugar diet. There are many physical and mental health benefits that make the hard transition worthwhile too:
  1. More stable blood sugar levels which keep energy swings in check.
  2. Lower risk of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
  3. Better digestion.

If you want to know more then check out this guide to low sugar diets.

Anyway, I put aside my worry of the veggie version not being as good and just made it, and it is simply delicious, and this time, without the guilt!

You can actually buy a soup or broth mix from Tesco or Waitrose (other supermarkets may do it, I haven’t looked). The one I use contains 55% pearl barley, which is a great, low GI, slow-releasing legume, as well as lentils, peas and beans – a great mix of legumes and plant-based proteins. I also added sweet potato (not normal potato as it is slightly higher GI and that wasn’t the best for this particular meal), carrots and celery.

We’ll be eating this tomorrow night, followed by a pearl barley, sweet potato and caramelised red onion salad before the fast.

For those who are observing, wishing you a healthy fast and a day of reflection that impacts personal growth and happiness. For me, I fast to remind myself of those many, many people in the world who go hungry, when it needn’t be like that anymore, to be in a state where I am reminded how fortunate I am to have all that I have, and to remind myself to send positive energy out to the world, and to pray for those less fortunate. A more selfish reason that comes part and parcel of fasting anyway, is that I believe a fast day every so often is good for cleansing.

G’mar chatima tova <3


500g soup mix pack or 350g pearl barley and 150g red lentils
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
3 cups vegetable stock (you may need to add more water)
2 bay leaves
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a pan (or the large soup pot you’ll be using for the soup if appropriate) on a low heat and add the onion, leaving it to sweat gently until it is soft and translucent.

Add the celery and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure not to burn them.

Tip it all into a large soup pan (unless you were already using this) and add all the other ingredients.

Once it reaches boiling, turn down the heat and cook on a low heat, stirring often so that the barley doesn’t get stuck to the bottom, which it will want to do!

As the barley expands you may need to keep adding more water so keep an eye on it.

Once it’s ready, remove the bay leaves and taste to see if it needs more seasoning. Add as required.

Love & health,

Leave a Reply

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Raiko

    Wow! This soup looks so good and delicious! I can’t wait to try this. Thanks a lot for sharing!