Pumpkin, Pear and Barley Sweet Soup

Pumpkin, Pear and Barley Sweet Soup

This Pumpkin, Pear and Barley Sweet Soup Dessert is one of my childhood favourites! I can still remember when my mum made this dessert, I would keep running in and out of the kitchen. I would check out the boiling pot, just to admire the barley dancing gracefully in the boiling water, while listening to its soothing bubbling sound. The fragrant aroma of the pandan leaves would fill up the whole kitchen too! Mmmm~

Pear and Pumpkin

The original recipe of this dessert needed quite a lot of sugar. I made a healthy twist to the recipe by adding pear to replace the use of sugar. The pear adds sweetness to the sweet soup and increases its nutrient content. Pear is a great source of fibre; 1 medium pear has about 4.5g of fibre which meets 15% of an adult’s recommended daily intake(30g fibre/day). Please note that the pear is only added at the very end of the cooking to minimise the loss of heat-sensitive nutrients like Vitamin C.

Pumpkin is another important ingredient in this dessert. The bright orange colour of pumpkin shows that it is loaded with a vital antioxidant: beta-carotene. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, molecules that damage our cells through a process known as oxidation. Over time, this damage can lead to the development of several chronic illnesses. Our body will convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which is essential for our immune system, good eye health and vision.


The star ingredient of this Pumpkin, Pear and Barley Sweet Soup is barley. Barley has the highest fibre content among all the whole grains. Most of the barley found in the typical supermarket is pearl barley. Pearl barley is not a whole grain as it has been polished/pearled. All or some of its outer bran layer is removed in this process. Most barley has a tough and inedible outer hull. This covering must be removed before the barley can be consumed. The easiest and fastest way to remove this outer hull is to scrape it off without worrying how much outer bran comes off at the same time.

If you would like to enjoy the goodness of a true whole grain barley, look for hulled barley or hull-less barley. Hulled barley has been minimally processed to remove only the tough inedible outer hull. This has to be done carefully so that the bran is not lost. It is a challenging process but that is what must be done for a barley to be considered whole grain. Hull-less or naked barley is another type of barley, its outer hull is loosely attached to the grain that will generally fall off on its own during harvesting.

Health Benefits of Barley

The good news is pearl barley is still healthier than the other refined grains. This is because some of the bran layers may still be present. Secondly, the barley’s fibre is distributed throughout the entire grain while the fibre in most grain is concentrated mainly in the outer bran layer (when the outer bran layer of these grains are removed, the fibre content will reduce drastically).

Barley’s fibre is high in beta-glucan (one form of soluble fibre). Beta glucan has gained much attention recently due to its beneficial roles in fighting obesity and metabolic syndrome, e.g lowering insulin resistance and blood cholesterol. The U.S Food and Drug Administration has concluded that 3g or more per day of beta-glucan from barley or oats can lower blood cholesterol level by 5-8%. 1 cup of cooked barley has 2.5g of beta glucan while 1 cup of cooked oatmeal has 2g beta-glucan.

Pumpkin, Pear and Barley Sweet Soup Recipe

Serves: 5                Time: 45 mins

Ingredients :

  • 1.5 Litre water
  • 1/2 cup barley, washed and rinsed
  • 2 cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 stalks pandan leaves, tied into a knot
  • 2 medium pear, seeded and cubed

Preparation :

  1. Boil the water in a large pot.
  2. Add in barley, pumpkins and pandan leaves. Let it boil for 2 minutes, close the lid, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Check the doneness of the barley. The barley is done when it has tripled in volume and is soft yet chewy.
  4. When the barley is done, remove the pandan leaves, add in pears, close the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving.
  5. This sweet soup dessert can be served hot or chilled in the fridge for few hours to serve cold.

Nutritional Facts:

Per serving:
110 calories; 0.6g Fat; 23g carbohydrates; 3.1g protein; 5.4g fibre

Carbohydrate Servings: 1.5

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