Jessie Steadman’s Winning Soup from Harvest Fest Soup Cook-Off

It was a tough day to be a soup maker. Prospect Farm’s Harvest Fest 2010 saw 10 great soups. Jessie Steadman’s Barley Soup took first place by the judges. Robin Wellington (cauliflower and blue cheese) and Oren Yaniv (Jerusalem Artichoke) tied for second place. Serena took the people’s choice for her Turkey and root vegetable soup. Judge Brandon Maya wrote a great review on her blog of all the soups. Thanks to all the competitors, judges, tasters. The winning soup recipe is below.

Barley Soup with Local Greens, Dill and Feta


  • 4 cups water
  • 8 cups (or more)
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt plus additional, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch coarsely chopped kale leaves (remove center stem)
  • 1 bunch coarsely chopped swiss chard (remove center stem)
  • 5 cups spinach leaves (remove any tough stems)
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel fronds (these are hard to find – I got them finally at Eataly – my farmer was out, but usually he does leave the frond on)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or more, if you like this flavor – I added 1 more T. the morning after I had made it the night before)
  • 1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled


  • Bring 4 cups water, 2 cups broth, barley, and 1 scant teaspoon sea salt to boil in large pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with sea salt, and sauté until golden brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add sautéed onions and remaining 6 cups broth to pot with barley. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm before continuing.
  • Add kale and chard to soup. Simmer until greens are tender, about 15 minutes. Add spinach, green onions, dill, fennel fronds; simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Season soup with sea salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice, thinning with more broth, if desired.
  • Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle feta cheese to serve.

It was so much fun and seemed like a great day for the community!


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