Bundner Gerstensuppe - Swiss barley soup

This is one of the tastiest soups I have ever had, and only came across this when my husband and I were having lunch in Chur (an odd-sounding town), in Graubunden, on a drive around the Swiss-German area. I was particularly intrigued to find barley in my soup, as I don't think I'd ever had barley before except maybe in squash! I find that cooked pork knuckles (the ones you can get in French supermarkets in the deli) and kidney beans are really full of flavour and easiest to find, ingredient-wise. But white beans work just as well. The carrots give the soup a lovely sweetness as well.

Makes: 4 generous servings


  1. Cut meat into small chunks/ cubes. Warm butter in tall (heavy-based if possible) saucepan. Add onion and meat and braise briefly.
  2. Add barley and beans and braise briefly.
  3. Add chicken stock (stock cubes are fine) and if possible, a ham bone.
  4. Add carrot, leek and celery and cook on a low simmer for 1.5 hours.
  5. Add cream (1 tbsp) as a garnish, if desired.











  • 100g white beans / kidney beans
  • 150g dry cured ham / pork knuckle
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 120g coarse barley
  • 3 litres water / chicken stock
  • 150g bacon (lardons work well)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 carrots, cubed
  • 1 potato
  • 1-2 leeks, sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
  • cream (optional)