The night before, soak the roveja in cold water.
The next day, well in advance for lunch or dinner, chop finely the red onion, the carrot and the celery: this is what we call battuto and is the basis of many a preparation.
Pour a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a thick-bottomed saucepan or cast iron pot, then add the battuto and sauté for a few minutes until it softens.
Now pour in the well drained roveja, the sprig of thyme and the bay leaf, two tablespoons of tomato sauce and a pinch of salt. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix and cook for a few minutes, then add the hulled barley, rinsed under running water, and cover with hot water, about 600 ml.
Cook covered over low heat for about an hour, checking frequently. If it gets too thick, add some hot water. One hour is enough to fully cook the hulled spelt and let the roveja al dente. If you prefer a more tender and cooked through roveja, add the spelt after half an hour and cook for another hour until the roveja reaches the consistency you prefer.
When the soup is almost ready, slice and dice the sourdough bread and sauté with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprig of thyme, salt and freshly ground black pepper until golden brown and crispy.
Serve the spelt and roveja soup with a generous handful of tasty croutons and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.