Thursday, 26 February 2009

Mushroom Barley Soup

Over the years of making this soup I have concluded that the secret to really good mushroom-barley soup is to take it easy with the barley, and to go crazy with the mushrooms. I've always used chicken stock in the past, but this time I had some broth that was a mix of lamb and beef, and it was very good. It would also be quite easy to make this into a vegetarian soup.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour prep time - plus time to cook the barley

Mushroom Barley Soup
1/2 cup raw pot barley
1 1/2 cups water
pinch of salt

2 medium leeks
1 medium carrot
2 stalks of celery
2 cups finely chopped cabbage
2 - 4 tablespoons chicken fat, or oil
4 cups sliced button mushrooms, or more
2/3 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Cook the barley in the first amount of water with the salt. I do it in the rice-cooker, but you could do it on top of the stove. You will need to watch it closely, and maybe use more water.

Meanwhile, peel the leeks and carrot, and dice them. Chop the celery and cabbage. Clean and slice the mushrooms, discarding the stems from the shiitakes.

Sauté the leeks, carrot, celery and cabbage in half of the fat or oil, until soft and translucent. Put them in a large soup pot with the broth, water, tamari and Worcestershire sauce. Add the barley too, when it's done.

Sauté the mushrooms, both kinds, in the remaining fat or oil. When they are soft and slightly browned, add them to the soup.

Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes or half an hour to meld the flavours.

Last year at this time I made Sauerkraut & Onion Smothered Pot Roast, and Glazed Rutabaga & Apricots.


Michael said...

I make a simpler version that's still pretty good, I think:

Clean and slice mushrooms (e.g. cremini), put in a pot with water; heat until boiling. In the meantime, fry chopped onions and grated carrots in oil. Perhaps halfway to the proper onion translucency, add the boiled mushrooms to the pan as well. Put barley into the pot and start it cooking, adding everything else when done frying. Cook until barley is done. Vegetable stock and herbs can be added, though salt and pepper are all that's needed. Serve with dark bread and a dollop of sour cream.

(Here the mushrooms contribute their flavor to the water when cooking -- subsequent frying is mainly for texture.)

Ferdzy said...

That's an interesting technique Michael, I haven't ever sautéd mushrooms once they were otherwise (partially) cooked. I'll have to try that.

I do like cooking the barley in the rice cooker though, because it cuts down so much on the time the soup needs to sit on the stove, and is totally idiot-proof. Always a good thing around here. ;)