Good old Northern Irish Vegetable Soup

When I moved to Liverpool for university in 2003 (I feel old) I was shocked to find out that the English version of Vegetable Soup was not the same as the Irish version. Our Vegetable Soup here in Northern Ireland is a taste that symbolises home for me – I have been eating it my whole life. It is an old fashioned broth, made with leeks, carrots, ‘soup celery’ and mixture of peas, barley and lentils. It can be made with chicken as well but I stick to the vegetable version.

A taste of home

Most supermarkets in Northern Ireland stock a soup vegetable pack – either pre-prepared or ready to peel and chop at home. The pulses can also be bought mixed together, as a ‘soup mix’.

Ingredients (makes enough for 3 large bowls)

  • 1/2 cup dried soup mix if available such as Buchanans (split peas, pearl barley, red lentils), soaked overnight. If this is not available, use a small handful of each item, and soak overnight.
  • 1 large carrot, 1 leek, small bunch soup celery, large bunch parsley, or you can use pre-prepared soup vegetables such as Quinfresh Soup Vegetables 320g. Soup celery is a thinner, slightly red toned version of celery. I think it might be the same as red celery but I can’t find much about it online! If you can’t get this, use normal celery – about 3 sticks.
  • 1.5 pints vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

A taste of home


  •  Soak the peas, barley and lentil mix overnight – put in a bowl and cover with water. It should soak most of it up.
  • Peel and chop the soup vegetables if necessary, I like them chopped quite finely.
  • Prepare your stock and add to a large saucepan. Bring to the boil.
  • Add your peas, barley and lentils, boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add your vegetables, boil for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for approx. 30 minutes.

A taste of home

A taste of home

The soup has a very distinctive, earthy flavour and smell. It tastes best the day after making, in my opinion. Adding a bit of Tabasco sauce works well if you like things spicy. I like eating the soup with wheaten bread and mature cheddar. My mum used to make Melba toast with it when we were younger. We used to spread thick butter on it and dip it in the soup.

Northern Irish vegetable soup

This soup is perfect when you want something tasty, wholesome and warming, and I can guarantee it will bring you a taste of home if you are an N.I expat!

Love, Laurel

P.S. Tell me in the comments, which foods and recipes give you that distinctive taste of home?


  1. I live in Australia, but my Granny is from the Short Strand. This, with a nice marrow bone in it, is the taste of my childhood!

  2. Making it today, the chicken carcass has been in the slow cooker for a day,and today the veg goes in, heavy on the celery as I like it and a bit later the cold carcass will be stripped and any meat saved , final seasoning and a yummy supper to look forward to 🙂

  3. y mum used to get a piece of shin from the butcher and cook that in a big pot of water, then lift it out and put all the vegetables and soupmixture in.

  4. My folks born & raised in NI. I grew up eating this soup in California and it means home to me! Now I make it for my family.

  5. In in Oz and it’s now winter. I just bought a slow cooker and making this bad boy tomorrow! Cheers!

  6. Claire Meneely

    October 26, 2015 at 09:25

    thank you! thought i was going mad when i couldnt find the soup veg in any supermarket here (london). best way tp use up left-over roast chicken on a cold autumn day

    • Laurel Loves

      October 26, 2015 at 09:34

      you’re welcome Claire! this is by far my most popular post, would you believe!

  7. took me until adulthood to appreciate it! hated it as a kid.

  8. Laurel Loves

    April 18, 2014 at 11:49

    Agree with the brown sauce in stew Zoe, not sure about in the soup though lol!

  9. Good old vegetable soup is a real taste of home. I like a wee bit of brown sauce in mine 😮 Also, it’s hard to beat a big bowl of stew-again, with brown sauce!!

  10. Laurel Loves

    February 2, 2017 at 14:45

    It’s hard to beat isn’t it!!

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