Montafoner Gerstensuppe | © Montafon Tourismus GmbH Schruns, Patrick Säly

Barley soup

Ideal for the cold season

A hot bowl of soup is a great way to warm up during the cold part of the year.

A classic in the Montafon is the barley soup with rich winter vegetables, smoked ham and smoked meat.

Barley, alongside whet, is probably the oldest type of grain. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese all cultivated it. Today as well, this type of grain exists around the world due to its excellent ability to adjust to climates. It is primarily used as animal feed as well as to make beer and whiskey. Peeled barley, also called pearl barley, is often used for soups or casseroles. This grain contains a variety of minerals, trace elements and vitamins. It is rich in calcium, iron, cobalt, zinc, phosphor and has a considerable amount of silicic acid.

In the Montafon, barley, especially during the two World Wars, was an important nutrient that could even be cultivated at 1,110 metres above sea level. The farmers could harvest all ingredients for a nutritious barley soup from their gardens and smoking chambers. The pork belly and smoked meat used to be left in the soup until the end and then eaten as a main dish with steamed white cabbage or sauerkraut and potatoes. Leeks, marjoram, bay leaves and other spices are not desired in “traditional” barley soup.

Thomas Hilbrand | © Montafon Tourismus GmbH Schruns, Patrick Säly

“The soup tastes best when the smoked ham of the pork rind is added to the mix.”

Barley soup receipe

Ingredients for four persons

  • 10 g red beans
  • 20 g pearl barley
  • 50 g Hamburg smoked ham (with pork rind)
  • 50 g smoked meat
  • 50 g potatoes and smoked ham
  • 50 g onions
  • 20 g celery (knob) 
  • 50 g carrots
  • 1.5 l water
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 bundle of chives

3 hours

Recipe to print out (in German)


  1. Soften the beans in water the day before.
  2. Soften the pearl barley in water for two hours and then wash it well.
  3. Boil the beans in water for 90 minutes - do not add salt or the beans will not soften.
  4. Add barley, smoked ham and smoked meat. After an hour of cooking, remove the smoked meat and smoked ham, let them cool and cut them into small cubes.
  5. Also cut the celery, carrots and potatoes into small cubes. Then add the potatoes and onions to the pot and then after 20 minutes add the carrots, finely chopped garlic and celery. 
  6. Then add salt and grated nutmeg to taste and sprinkle with chives as a garnish when serving. 

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