This cool Fall weather has me thinking soup! I made this a few weeks back, and we really liked it. It makes a very satisfying meal served with a crusty bread, and the lamb gives it a distinctive flavor that really sets it apart. Also, I love barley. I only recently starting using it regularly - why did I wait so long? - and I adore it.
Time-saving tip: Chop all the vegetables the day before or early in the day (when you start the barley and split peas soaking). Store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator until you're ready to add them to the soup.
While you can serve this soup right away (with that crusty bread), it is better - like most soups are - if you make it one day and then reheat it the next. If you want to serve it the same day you make it, try using the 10 cups of water instead of 12. Your soup will be much thinner the first time you serve it, but it thickens up more each time it's reheated. You know how soup is - it gets better and better every time you reheat it, until it's GONE. (Time to make more!)
The original recipe called for a lamb shank instead of the ground lamb. I inventoried my freezer yesterday and found that I have two lamb shanks - so I'm going to try it that way next time. I also have a bunch of kale right now, for which I substituted spinach in my recipe. I think I'm going to have to make this again. Soon. Just to see which way we like it best. The beauty of soup - besides being a warm, comforting meal on a cool fall or winter day - is that you can substitute the ingredients you have and come up with something uniquely yours.