Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Chestnut Barley Soup

This warm and delicious wintery soup comes from the Aosta Valley; it’s a region in the North of Italy, and much of its territory is occupied by the Alps.

Because the Aosta Valley is close to the Piedmont region and to France, the cuisine of both these areas has heavily influenced the tradition of the Aosta Valley, too.

Serves: 2 | Preparation time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 50 mins

  • Barley: 100 g
  • Vegetable broth: 1 l
  • Chestnuts, boiled: 10
  • Potatoes: 1
  • Onions, white: 1
  • Bay leaf: 1 leaf
  • Rosemary: 1 sprig
  • Butter, unsalted: 1 tsp
  • Nutmeg: ½ tsp
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): to taste
  • Salt and pepper: to taste


Tip: If you prefer, you can use fresh chestnuts – in this case, however, you need to prepare them before you start cooking your soup. Leave them to soak in water for about 12 hours, then peel them and rinse them under cold running water. Boil the chestnuts for 10 minutes. Now you’re ready to go!

Prepare the vegetable broth by following our recipe: Easy Every-Day Vegetable Broth & Veggie Patties.

Mince the onion, then brown it in a pan along with the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the barley and toast it, then add a few ladles of warm broth. As soon as the barley absorbs the liquid, add more broth – just like you would do to prepare a risotto. Season to taste and add the rosemary and the bay leaf.

In the meantime, dice the potato and the chestnuts; keep some whole to garnish the soup later on.

Add the potatoes and the chestnuts to the barley, add some more broth and cover with a lid. Leave to cook over low heat for 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and remove the rosemary and the bay leaf.

Tip: Add more broth if you find the soup to be too thick. You can also use an immersion blender to make the soup more smooth and with fewer chunks.

Serve your soup warm, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and some whole chestnuts.

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  1. I cannot wait to try this Fiorenza. I happen to have two jars of cooked chestnuts I was planning to use to make some chocolate/chestnut cookies but I think this is what I will use them for. I live alone so am always glad to make soups/stews that will feed me more than once, freezing in individual batches with great success.

    I don’t know if I will be able to find these cooked chestnuts again as I have not seen them in my supermarket in the past months. That said Amazon has become my friend and I did see them there so I am a happy camper knowing I will always be able to have a supply.

    I do not know how to convert grams to ounces/pounds/cups, etc. so will wing it.

    Again, sincere thanks for sharing recipes, some very familiar to me and others, as this one, new and exciting. At age 82 I am still very eager to learn.

    1. Dear Anna,
      what a great energy, your comment and enthusiasm make me very happy!
      I’m not a camper, but I think this dish is perfect for the occasion as well as being very healthy.

      100 g corresponds to approximately 3.5 oz, about 1 cup

      Keep me posted and thanks again for appreciation of my recipes!

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