Bacon and Barley Minestrone



To cook on the stove top : Prep time = 20 minutes. Cook time = 1.5-2 hours
To cook in a crock pot : Prep time = 20 minutes. Cook time = 6-7 hours on High

1 large leek, white part only
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 large parsnip, peeled and grated
2 stalks celery, stringy skin peeled off
½ cup of barley, rinsed well
1 Meat Cuisine Bacon hock
2 x 250g Meat Cuisine fresh chicken stock
750ml hot water
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes in juice
2 sprigs rosemary, left whole
3-4 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
100g round green beans, finely sliced or 100g baby spinach leaves
A little chopped parsley or fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan to serve

1. Cut leek in half and remove any tough green leaves. Cut in half lengthways then cut each half to shorten it. Cut each quarter of leek into 4 even lengths then finely slice and place in a colander. Repeat until all leek is finely sliced. Rinse the leek well under a running tap to remove any dirt that is trapped between the leaves. Shake dry.
Grate carrots coarsely and parsnip, add to the colander. Cut each celery stick into 4 even lengths then slice finely into a small dice. Add to colander of vegetables. Toss the vegetables lightly with your hands and mix well. Add to large saucepan or pre warmed crock pot.

2. Add rinsed barley to the vegetables and mix through. Place the bacon hock on top of the vegetables. Pour over the chicken stock and hot water. Spread the chopped tomato evenly on the top. Add fresh herbs.
Cover and slowly bring to the boil. Or turn onto high in a crock pot or slow cooker and leave to cook for 6-7 hours.

3. When the soup has come to the boil, give it a stir then turn it down to a slow simmer and leave to cook covered for 1.5 hours. Check the soup occasionally and turn the bacon hock to ensure even cooking.
If you are using gas to cook on then it is often hard to keep a ‘slow simmer’. I recommend using a simmer mat which you can buy at your local hardware store. It is an aluminum disc that sits between the gas and the saucepan and distributes the heat more evenly and slowly.
4. After 1.5 hours on the stove top check the barley is tender. Remove the rosemary twigs and bay leaves. Add the finely chopped beans, return the lid. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 15-20 minutes. For a crock pot the soup will be ready after 6 ½ -7 hours. You can add the beans and pasta and allow it to cook for a further 30-40 minutes.

5. Just before serving remove the bacon hock and peel away the thick skin. Flake away the meat with you hands. Chop it roughly and add back to the soup pot or crock If the soup is a little thick after adding back the chopped ham then thin it down with a little extra hot chicken stock or boiling water. Check the soups flavour and add a little salt and pepper as needed.

6. Ladle the minestrone into warmed bowls and serve with toasted bread and butter or fresh chewy bread rolls. Sprinkle a little chopped parsley into each bowl and a couple of teaspoons of grated parmesan to serve.

* You can substitute 2 large onions for the leek. Cut into a fine dice to use.

* To freeze the soup to enjoy for a weekend lunch or quick evening meal allow it to cool down completely. Transfer into plastic lidded containers. Allow approximately 2 large ladles of soup per person. Write the quantity of serves and date then freeze. It will be fine for up to 3 months in the freezer.

* Bacon or ham hocks are interchangeable in this recipe. You could also use four large chicken drumsticks. 2-3 Lamb shanks would also make a tasty soup.

* Fresh chicken stock is now easy to buy and will add extra flavour and nutrition to your soup. If you like to make chicken stock and have an excess then use just chicken stock in the recipe in place of water.

*Barley is an ancient cereal grain and sold mainly as polished or pearl barley. It is slow to cook and usually takes around an hour. It provides good thickening for soups and stews and cooks to a chewy pasta like consistency. Barley will give great flavour to a soup as well as being great for your health and providing a good source of fibre.
If you do not have barley on hand you could also use Arborio rice and this would give a similar result.

Recipe created by Tracey Sunderland © 29-06-07
Meat Connoisseurs
meat cuisine loyalty

meat cuisine facebook

meat cuisine recipes


auckland free delivery
within the Auckland Metro area covering Albany to Papakura & West to Henderson
"Just wanted to let you know that you folks have allowed my husband and I to send my Daughter and Son-in-Law the perfect gifts.  We live in the US and they live in Auckland!  It's very difficult, being so far away, to know what they might need and sending things they want can be as expensive to mail as to acquire!  But everyone looks forward to having such wonderful high quality meats your company provides!  Thank you so much for your terrific quality products and outstanding service!"

Brian and Kathy Ward

Hi team, just wanted to say a big thank you for your amazing service.  I needed to cater for a dinner party and fell upon your website after searching “Gourmet Meat”.  I live in Whangarei and thought I would purchase a few different items to try and test your service before placing a large order for our party.  I was so impressed at how efficient your service was.  I ordered my meat online one day, and it was couriered from Akld to Whg the next day.  The meat arrived all professionally packaged and in excellent condition with freeze packs included in the box to keep the meat cool.  The meat itself is to die for!!!!!  Everything is as described on your website.  The price is deserving of the meat provided and very affordable, your meat is extremely superior to that offered in other butchery’s and supermarkets and more importantly is very flavoursome!  We will be ordering all our meat online from hereon in. Thanks team.

"Just a quick note to say thank you! Our friend was most impressed with the package we had you send for his birthday.  Many thanks for the excellent service."
Eloise & Lance Barnes

"I am just writing to in say how much I and my family enjoyed the Rolled Boned Pork which we picked up for Christmas Dinner. There was a beautiful covering of fat which was fantastic for crackling. The meat was moist and soft. 

We all agreed that it was one of the best pieces of pork that we had in a long time."

Karen Staples

"I live in Sydney and thought I'd try your online shopping service.My family were both surprised and impressed by the quality of the meats and the speedy fast delivery service.I myself am very happy with the    fact that you offer this service online and that I could present my family with a great gift from the heart to nourish the soul and fill their bellies during the festive season.

Again, I thank you and will be recommending  your online shopping service to my friends and family here in Australia. Until my next purchase. Keep up the good work! Happy prosperous new year!"                         


Read more happy customers