Swiss Bündner Gerstensuppe (Barley Soup)

This is a Swiss soup very popular in the Swiss mountains. 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 is not creamy which is suitable after doing some sports. 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.




  • 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 haricot beans
  • 1 cup of chicken or beef stock
  • 2.5 litres of water



  1. Soak the barley and beans separately in large bowls of water for 4-6 hours.
  2. Chop finely 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. 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 hours.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, ready to serve.

* I opt-out the bacon personally because I want to keep the soup low-fat. 




2 thoughts on “Swiss Bündner Gerstensuppe (Barley Soup)

  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.

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