Slovenian swill (aka barley soup).

This soup has four ingredients, one of which is water and I can’t believe its this good. Every fall/winter, Dad will make this soup a few times. He learned it from his mother and just recently shared the recipe with me.

The man was holding out. I thought the soup involved, like, work. No.  You basically have to boil water, open two cans and add chopped pork butt. Seriously, I could have used this simple soup before now.

Being the only one of his college roommates with any talent in the kitchen, Dad was the cook in the apartment. The roommates dubbed it “Slovenian swill,” although that name is a complete misnomer because they greedily swallowed bowlful after bowlful. As to whether this soup is particularly Slovenian, well I don’t know but my Slovene granny made it.

Slovenian swill, recipe by Dad & Gramma. Yields about 10 cups of soup.



One 1.5 pound pork butt or ham hock (We found a good pork butt with nice fat to meat ratio for about $8 at our local grocer)

2 cans (10.5 oz, ea.) Campbell’s vegetarian vegetable soup

10 cans (10.5 oz, ea.) water

1 generous cup dry barley


1. Empty contents of soup into bowl and set aside. Place pork butt or ham hock in large soup pot. Pour over 10 cans of water using the emptied soup cans. To be fair, and to comply with my very type A personality, I like to do five from each can.

2. Put pot on stove and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the barley and, according to my father, “cook it until it’s done.” Very succinct, Dad. Go by package instructions for your barley, but I let it simmer an hour and it turned out well. Keep a lid on while the barley is cooking.

3. When barley is cooked, add the soup mix you set aside earlier. At this point the soup is done. You can serve it now, but I’m going to advise you against it. This soup is best if allow to sit and mellow. I made this soup on Sunday night and then put it in the refrigerator, covered, and reheated it on Wednesday.

4. If you were wise and waited to enjoy the soup, bring the soup (with the pork butt or ham hock still in it) back up to a boil. When bubbling, remove the meat and cut into bite-sized pieces and return to the soup. Serve hot with some good crusty bread or biscuits to sop up the broth.

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