How To Make The Perfect… Pumpkin & Pearl Barley Risotto

With each passing year, a criminal amount of delicious pumpkin flesh is wasted in the name of Halloween Jack-o’-lanterns, and the fact that it’s one of the most versatile autumnal vegetables only makes the whole ordeal even more upsetting. While it’s difficult to go wrong with a classic pumpkin soup, this recipe from Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin is a great way to make use of pumpkin flesh and seeds for both Halloween and the rest of the British pumpkin season, generally lasting through to December.


Serves 4

Pearl barley, 250g

Vegetable stock, 1l

Shallots, 4, diced finely

Medium pumpkin, 1

Butter, 100g

Chives, 1tbsp, chopped finely

Extra virgin olive oil

Watercress leaves (deep-fried until crispy)

Parmesan shavings, for serving


Cut the pumpkin into chunky wedges.  You can also retain and dry, then roast the pumpkin seeds

Roast the pumpkin wedges in the oven until golden and well caramelised. Retain some nice pieces to garnish, purée the remaining roasted pumpkin in a blender until smooth. Reserve until later

Put vegetable stock in a pan to heat

Sweat the diced shallot in a little olive oil until completely soft. Then add the pearl barley and 50g of butter and lightly ‘roast’ the grains in the butter, without adding any colour

When the grains appear translucent on the outside begin adding the heated stock, one ladle at a time, whilst stirring very gently but continuously to avoid the grains sticking to the pan

Continue ladling stock and cooking until the grains are almost cooked through. Then stir in a 50g of butter and some of the pumpkin purée to create a nice orange colour.

When at the right consistency, remove from the heat and serve with roasted pumpkin seeds, the retained pumpkin pieces, chopped chives, crispy watercress leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan shavings

Recipe by Tom Kitchin, images by Marc Millar. See Tom live at the BBC Good Food Show Scotland, SECC Scotland 4-6 November.

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