Barley has been cultivated since the Stone Age and fermented to make beer soon after. Folk medicine has made use of barley water, made by simply soaking barley in water, as a tonic during convalescence. "Pearl" barley is the name of the grain when it's been polished, after the husk and bran have been removed. It's the form most commonly used in soups. This grain has one significant health advantage compared to most other cereal grains (oats and corn for example) it is very low on the glycemic index. Enjoy this old fashioned, hearty soup!