Swiss Bündner Gerstensuppe (barley Soup) – revisited

This is a Swiss soup very popular in the Swiss mountains especially in the Graubünden region. I take this soup for lunch every time when I go skiing. I like it a lot as it is tasty, good in fibre and nutritious, also the soup s filling but you will not feel it too creamy or heavy at all. It is ideal after doing some sports and as a winter soup. Barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese. Not sure if it is true of not, barley is also said to be good for skin beauty. I think it is because if your digestion is healthy, it will in turn improves your skin condition too.

I like the soup so much that I want to try it at home. This is a recipe from my Swiss friend, Caroline. Made it multiple times already and at first I was hesitant about the egg yolk and cream added in the end just before serving, because I was worried if it is rather fattening so I have skipped for the first few times but then it did not taste exactly the same as those I had out there. Therefore I tried it with the addition of the egg yolk cream and magic, this is the taste that I have been looking for. This is something that cannot be missed out!!!!!!


  • 1 big onion (or 2 small ones)
  • 300g carrots
  • 1 leek column
  • 1 small celery
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 100g barley, soaked and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250g smoked ham (Würfeli, if you can get)
  • 2 pieces of Bündner raw or smoked raw bacon (optional)
  • 100g of anhydrous beans (e.g. Haricot or Cannellini beans, kidney beans, pinto beans)
  • 1 cup of chicken or beef stock
  • 2.5 litres of water
  • 2 egg yolks, beatened
  • 100 ml low fat cream
  • Fresh or dried Chives, in small pieces



  1. Soak the barley and beans separately in large bowls of water for 4-6 hours.
  2. Finely chop the onion, leek, celery and carrots.
  3. Sauté the chopped onion, leek, carrots and celery in a big pan with olive oil until lightly soften & translucent. Add the smoked ham and sauté for 5 mins in medium heat.
  4. Transfer the sautéd ingredients into a soup pot and add in the anhydrous beans, barley and bay leaves.
  5. Pour in the chicken stock and water and bring to boil for 5 mins, then simmer in medium heat for 2.5 hours.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. In a bowl, mix the beatened egg yolks and cream together and set aside.
  8. When ready to serve, put 2 tbsp the egg yolk/ cream mix onto the soup bowl, then add the hot barley soup to it and mix well. Garnish with some chives.



  • If you are going to freeze the soup, do not add the egg yolk and cream into the soup before freezing. The egg yolk cream is only to be added just before serving.



7 thoughts on “Swiss Bündner Gerstensuppe (barley Soup) – revisited

  1. Looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

    Hi Kristan, hope you will like it! Let me know how it goes.

  2. That looks really good! I’ll be sure to try some variation of it some time.

    Pls do let me know your variation, I adapt other people’s recipes as well according to my own taste and what’s available around me.

  3. I love this kind of soup, so comforting and nutritious. I love barley especially. These little things are magical, they can be used for desserts and soups.
    I seldom have any opportunity to try any Swiss foods, should follow your recipe to cook this soup.
    We don’t have any smoked “raw” bacon here. Can I just replace it with ordinary bacon, or smoked bacon?
    .-= Christine@Christine’s Recipes´s last blog ..Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream =-.

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