Graubunden Barley Soup or “Gerstensuppe”

Source:  Beerli Family cir. 1970

Graubunden Barley Soup

Graubunden Barley Soup, or Gerstensuppe is a traditional soup from the Kanton of Graubunden.

If you ever visit Switzerland, Graubunden is a worthwhile stop. I’d have to say Graubunden displays pure beauty. It’s known for the richness of mountain town culture, as well as old architecture. Additionally, the region is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Hosting a backdrop not only for climbing, biking, hiking, ski touring. But it’s perfect for the nature lover who needs to be impressed. Graubunden is filled with peaks and valleys, over 150 valleys in fact. While the hills and road ways just seem to inter-twine within themselves and seem to go on forever. Graubunden is hugely rich on tradition, and culture.

Gerstensuppe is one of those traditions which has stuck around for a few hundred years. It’s an amazing soup. I’d say this soup is more of a denser soup, finding it quite filling and satisfying. The key ingredient here is barley. Sadly, it’s an ingredient I seldom use, yet it’s a powerhouse grain. If you don’t hail from Switzerland, finding some of the traditional items from the region will not be possible. So I’m presenting a International version of this recipe. Thus allowing you to locate all the necessary items to make this warm, winter soup.

Graubunden Barley Soup or “Gerstensuppe”

A traditional Swiss soup that warms you up from the inside out.
Course 1 Appetizer (Soup/Salad)
Cuisine Swiss
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8 people


  • 100 Grams Rollgerste (grain) or Barley
  • 3 to 4 stocks celery finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium leek sliced and washed
  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 1.5 liters bouillon/water vegetable or meat (chicken or beef)
  • 300 grams pork sliced or diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream optional, or you can put a few tablespoons in, the effect is the same
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch nutmeg for flavor and color
  • 1 to 2 sprigs parsly for garnish
  • 100-200 grams Buntnerfleish or a high quality dried meat, diced.


  • gather ingredients together
  • dice onions and saute with butter and olive oil
  • peal and dice vegetables
  • add diced vegetables to sauteed onions.  Add the stock, along with the diced meat and barley grain.  Cover until boils, then lower to simmer  and cook with lid on for 1 hour. 
  • have your Buntner fleish diced and ready to add along with your cream after the 1 hour of cooking.  Add, then simmer again for about 10 min. 
  • serve and enjoy this delicious soup.
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