Heat olive oil in medium saucepan/stock pot.It was quite perfect actually. Just a little heat from the pepper and the earthy potatoes were melt in your mouth soft but held their shape in the bowl. Just a hint of lemongrass scent wafted with each spoonful.
Sautee fresh garlic bits and roughly cubed purple potatoes.
Add roughly chopped leek leaves and cover but remember to uncover and stir once in a while so potatoes don't stick too much. I needed to do a little light scraping with my wooden spoon.
Add oil as needed.
When potatoes are soft-ish but not necessarily cooked through, add dry barley and stir.
Cover for a tiny bit.
Add low-sodium broth. I used the entire box.
Salt to taste.
Add lemongrass. I cut the leaves lengthwise to release aroma but left them on the stem intact. It's not edible and this makes it easier to fish out or avoid ladling when plating.
Add a sprinkling of red chili pepper flakes and loads of white pepper powder (as found in Asian markets).
Bring to boil and then low heat simmer for 30 mins.
Not bad for impromptu sick day meal making, huh? And, I personally feel soup tastes better eaten off of ceramic spoons. :)
Off to rest.