Melt a large nob of butter and some olive oil in your pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, fennel, celery and carrots, stir well and gently sauté for roughly 8 minutes.
Add the herbs and garlic and sauté again for another couple of minutes until it all begins to soften.
Next, add the chopped fresh tomatoes and the stalks of the rainbow chard, stir again, place the lid on and let all the veg sweat for at least five minutes or until the veg are soft.
Now add the stock and the rest of the veg and pearl barley and let the soup simmer very gently with the lid on for at least an hour, then turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Let the soup stand to cool – at least an hour, 4 hours is good, overnight is best. There’s something miraculous about the chemisty of allowing the dish to cool and be reheated that will make it taste phenomenal.
To make the dumplings, place all the ingredients into a large bowl and rub them together, add enough cold water to bring it all together into a ball of dough. Divide it into small bitesize balls and set aside.
Once you’re ready to serve, heat the soup to a gentle bubble, then add the dumplettes to the top, place the lid on and let the whole pot sit for 15 min before placing under the grill for 5 min… it should be hot but not steaming when people eat it.