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Recipe for
(Lentil and barley soup)

Phakoptisana (Lentil and barley soup)

by Galen, quoted in Oribasius Medical Compilations

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Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.

Yes, this book has a new cover, but I like this one better. Blah, I am so horrible.
AFAIK, this recipe comes from Grant and was inserted by original site author (I will say again to PLEASE buy these author's books! By doing so, you will help support them — even for books that are older and might not sell as well anymore... These authors do not do this for money, they do it for love. Please support them!

Roman soups were generally thick. There are no surviving recipes with quantities specifed to give us this information, but the nature of the Roman table provides the proof. Food had to be eaten with the fingers. Anything fluid was scooped up with bread, cutlery never being used for this purpose at the table, so a watery soup would therefore have been more than awkward. Similarly, lifting a bowl of soup to the lips would have been considered bad manners, at least in polite company, and even people eating on their own at home would have employed bread or fried noodles.

Original recipe:

Translation: ‘There is an excellent dish which is called Lentils and Barley soup, where barley and lentils are added not in in equal quantities, but rather less barley, since barley would thicken the cooking and alsogain a great deal in weight; lentils, on the other hand, when boiled, swell up by but a small amount. The seasoning is of course the same for this food as for pearl barley, except that when savory or penny-royal have been put in as an addition it becomes more pleasant and easier to digest, whilst pearl barley is unsuitable with these seasonings, and suffices with just dill and leeks.’


  • 60g/2 oz pearl barley
  • 100g/3 oz red lentils
  • A few leeks
  • A bunch of fresh dill
  • Sea salt


  • Put the barley and lentils in a large dish and add 3 pints of water.
  • Leave to soakpreferably overnight.
  • Slice a leek, finely chop the dill and place these along with the salt into the dish.
  • Simmer the soup gently, with the lid on, for about one hour.
  • Serve
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