Barley Porridge with Walnuts

When we were young my mother used to make something she liked to call barley soup. It was actually just barley and milk cooked together for what seemed like an eternity. By the time it was done, the milk had condensed to pudding consistency. As kids we loved it, but the down side was it did tend to burn if it wasn’t stirred often – which unfortunately happened a lot. This is a lighter version, and thankfully a little safer…

Look for quick-cooking pearl barley in the supermarket that cooks in about 20 minutes. Very handy. Pearl barley can also be soaked overnight to reduce cooking time considerably.


220 g (1 cup) pearl barley
1 litre (4 cups) water
½ litre (2 cups) milk, any kind
Salt to taste
A few walnuts


  • Gently rinse the barley in several changes of water and drain. Put the barley and fresh water into a large pot and bring to a rolling boil over a high flame.
  • As soon as it boils, turn down the flame, cover, and gently simmer for
    about 50 minutes, or until it achieves porridge consistency, adding more water as needed.  Stir often during the last 20 minutes to prevent sticking.
  • When the barley is tender, add the milk and return to a gentle simmer then serve.
  • Alternatively, cook in a pressure cooker. Bring to pressure over a high flame. When the pressure valve seals and the toggle or valve stem indicates high pressure, turn the flame low and cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Turn off and let the pressure drop naturally, about five or ten minutes. Open the lid, stir the barley from the bottom then add the milk and return to a gentle simmer. Stir well before serving.
  •  Season with a little salt and serve sprinkled with broken walnuts and honey.

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