Saute onion in oil until soft, along with bay leaf and celery seed. Stir in peas, barley, and lima beans. Add 8 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook on low heat, partially covered, for about an hour and a half.
Add salt, pepper, vegetables, and herbs. Turn heat down as low as possible and simmer another 30 to 45 minutes. Thin with additional water or stock as you like. Correct seasonings.