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When adding barley to a soup (usually with some combination of vegetables), should I add the barley later than the rest of the ingredients?

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using pearl barley? –  Pat Sommer May 18 '12 at 4:52

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It depends on how long the soup cooks for and whether you soak the barley or not. If the soup is going to cook for a couple of hours, you can just add unsoaked barley with everything else. Or you can soak the barley and add it towards the end of cooking.

If the soup is going to be cooked relatively quickly, you should soak the barley and add it with everything else. Soaked barley (soaked for a couple of hours) needs to be cooked for about 30 minutes.

It also depends on how soft you like the barley to be. Some people like it to near-disintegrate, some prefer it a little al dente.

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It also depends on whether you are using pearl barley which cooks a lot quicker than the version that still has its bran (it's called pot barley here in Ireland). –  Stefano May 18 '12 at 12:58

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