In a large, heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes, or until just softened. Add the spring onions, celery, butternut, carrots, sweet potato, leek and potatoes, and cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the pearl barley, bay leaf and stock, and season well. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until the barley is cooked.
To serve, divide the cheese between the slices of bread and grill until bubbling. Stir the thyme in the soup, and top with the cheesy bread.
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