In a large saucepan
over medium heat, add the oil and saute the onion and garlic until translucent and soft. Add the barley and stir together so the barley gets coated with oil and begins to toast.
Reduce the heat and slowly add the vegetable stock a little at a time to the toasted barley
. Stir constantly until all the liquid you've added has evaporated, then add more. Continue to do this until all the stock has been used. Reduce the heat to low and add the asparagus. Simmer
until the asparagus
is cooked, normally around 8 minutes. Cook's Note: Alternatively, you could blanch
the asparagus first in boiling water, prior to adding it to the cooked barley. This will save you time if you're in a hurry.
Stir in the cream, cheese
and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish
with the chopped basil