Meaty, chunky and filling, this hearty soup is perfect for a cold day. Have a go at Philippa Davis' squash, pearl barley and pancetta soup


This squash, pearl barley and pancetta soup is the perfect offering for a cold day. When the temperatures really drop, this rich and hearty soup is the best remedy to the winter chill. The butternut squash means you can make it as chunky as you want, while the meatiness of the diced pancetta and chicken or pheasant stock makes this squash, pearl barley and pancetta soup one of the most warming offerings for a cold day.

For a smoky and rich comfort soup, have a go at cullen skink, which can be left chunky for supper or blitzed smooth to take in a flask. For another soup perfect as an on-the-go lunch, have a go at the parsnip, thyme and honey soup with ginger crisps.


On a very cold day almost nothing can beat this squash, pearl barley and pancetta soup. Meaty, chunky and filling, it’s exactly what you need as a pick-me-up (well that and a glass or two of sloe gin).

Serves 8

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 50g (13⁄4oz) butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs finely chopped rosemary plus 1 tbs for serving
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 100g (31⁄2oz) diced pancetta
  • 75g (22⁄3oz) pearl barley
  • 2 litres (31⁄2 pints) chicken or pheasant stock

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Place the butternut squash on a tray and bake it whole for an hour and a half till it’s just soft. Then leave it to cool till you can peel off the skin, remove the seed and chop the flesh into small cubes.

Meanwhile, finely chop the celery, onion and garlic and sauté in a large pan with the butter, olive oil, sage leaves, rosemary, chilli and pancetta.

Once softened (about 15 minutes) add the pearl barley and cooked, chopped squash. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until the barley is just soft.

Check the seasoning then serve hot with an extra sprinkle of chopped rosemary.