Every time I make soup for Cerridwyn, the recipe is different. I used to have a recipe that I riffed off of, swapping out ingredients and adding or subtracting things. This most recent time, I had to completely abandon all hopes of using a recipe.
We are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I haven’t been out to get groceries in a while, so I decided to make soup with what I had – which turns out wasn’t many of my usual ingredients.
All of my soups for Cerridwyn have contained barley. I don’t know why, but when I started on my journey with Her, barley was important. Maybe it was a tie back to my ancestors, since barley was one of the first domesticated grains. It also felt connected to the British Isles, home of the Welsh goddess of transformation and change.
The first soup that I made for Her also contained collards. Collards were a staple growing up in the American South, even if I didn’t eat them all that often. Both of these ingredients felt like important ties to both the land and my ancestors.
However, I did not happen to have any collards on hand this time – or carrots, or zucchini, or squash, or onions, or spinach, or really any other normal soup ingredients. I found a can of cannellini beans and a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes in the back of my pantry. I had some sweet potatoes (gifted to my parents (and then to me) from some family friends back in my rural hometown). My garlic had somehow not gone bad yet. There was ¼ of a bag of frozen broccoli crammed in the back of my freezer. And thankfully, I always keep some vegetable Better Than Bullion on hand.
So, I got inventive. Having to make do with what I had during this pandemic seemed right, and like something I needed to experience. My ancestors were able to survive doing much the same thing. While I still could have gone to the grocery if I had been willing to risk it, this devotional act of making soup for Cerridwyn felt so much more powerful because I was able to focus on what I really needed. It felt like an appropriate way to honor the Goddess of transformation and change, in these rapidly changing and uncertain times.
I decided to post the recipe here for a few reasons: 1) To give you a starting point if you want to try making your own devotional soup for Cerridwyn, 2) Because it turned out really well and I was proud that I concocted something so delicious on a whim, and 3) One of my friends was very disappointed that the Spiritual Soul Food section of my blog didn’t actually contain any recipes.
Here it is! Even better, it can all be made in one pot, including the broth! I encourage you to play around with the recipe. If you have access to more ingredients, feel free to incorporate them.
Sweet Potato and Barley Soup for Cerridwyn
- 2 small sweet potatoes (or 1 medium one), peeled and cut into slices ⅛ inch thick and quartered
- 1 cup pearl barley (rinsed)
- 6 garlic cloves (pressed or minced)
- 1 can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 large 28-ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 ½ cup broccoli florets
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 Tbsp thyme
- 2 tsp parsley
- Sea salt and ground rainbow peppercorns to taste
- Prepare the 6 cups of vegetable broth in a large stockpot.
- Add 6 pressed or minced garlic cloves to the simmering broth.
- Add sliced sweet potatoes, pearl barley, paprika, oregano, thyme, and parsley to the broth. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add cannellini beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and broccoli florets. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. (I use this time for meditation. You should probably stir frequently here, but I’m usually too far in meditation to really do that. Thankfully, I have a non-stick stockpot, so it isn’t too much of a problem.)
- Cook until the barley is tender. Add sea salt and ground rainbow peppercorns to taste.
This soup is really more of a stew, and will be quite thick. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, though the barley will soak up extra liquid and may become a bit mushier. If the stew is too thick, you can always add more water or broth to thin it a little.