If you are thinking of doing more home cooking, then soups are a great way to begin. This pearl barley soup is not a blended soup; it is good and chunky. The twins love it and I make it most weeks; often with some chicken thigh or breast poached and added. It is a great after-school meal. The streaky bacon adds flavour and it is an ideal soup to make some extra and freeze.

Whenever I make the potato, leek and bacon soup I am reminded of Saturdays chatting with the wonderful Marian Finucane. It is such a short time since her passing and I often think of her family. On one programme with her, a French journalist told us that this soup was one of the first things given to babies when weaned. It always stuck with me as an example of how the French appreciate food and taste right from the beginning. Leeks are sometimes spoken of as the poor man’s asparagus, but I love them and use all of the green and white part in this. Vegetarians can leave out the bacon, and use cream instead of milk for a beautifully rich soup.