I think about flavors I think will taste good together and then I experiment. This is one of those hit it on the head right out of my imagination meals that really is wonderful. This is one of my best creations from imagination.
Pour the broth into a big stock pot and put in the barley bring to just under a boil and let it simmer while you Chop all the choppy stuff. Make sure to put in all the leeks. Chop everything up with them. Sometimes the fennel can be very strong taste it as you add ingredients BEWARE NOT TO LET THE FENNEL OVERWHELM THE OTHER FLAVORS. Same with the shallots they can sometimes be overwhelming. Sometimes I put in carrots and other great veggies. I vary this recipe.The main ingredients I always keep are the ones in the ingredient list above. Other than those things play with it and make it to your families tastes.
If you want more flavor in the soup add about 2 cups of water and add some sage, thyme and other good veggie spices. This soup is very filling and rib sticking. You will be full for awhile after eating it. The flavor level depends on the cook. Such an easy soup to add a pinch here and there to your tastes. I love the flavor combinations that blend together in this soup. So hearty and so yummy. I make it as flavorfull as I can I throw all in. Tasting after each addition to make sure the balance of flavor is not thrown off.