February 4, 2010

Mushroom Barley Soup

Sorry for the cruddy picture! I left my camera at work last night, so I snapped a quick one in my office of my lunch today.

One of the things I love about reading food blogs is that it will lead me on a recipe adventure all across the interwebz. I'll start off on a favorite blog, like Smitten Kitchen, for example, and she'll have made a recipe from one of her favorite blogs, The Wednesday Chef, who will have made a recipe from her favorite blog...and so on and so on. This is how I came to discover today's winning recipe of deliciousness.

Originally published by the New York Times in 2002, this soup is from Marian Burros's mother. Burros is a food writer and columnist for the Times. She talks about eating soup to "feed the starving beast within" especially after indulging in heavy holiday food. Well, it hasn't been a holiday, but I have been indulging quite a bit! So it was time for a healthy and filling meal that wasn't going to weigh me down.

Enter, Mushroom and Barley Soup! Clearly, you have to like mushrooms in order to enjoy this soup. And luckily, we do! I love how they take on a whole new depth of flavor once they are cooked...and sauteed in a broth? Oh, fugheddaboutit! I made the soup totally vegetarian (pareve beef bullion cubes) so it can go with any side dishes. I also threw in some fresh thyme that was hanging out in my fridge, looking a little lonely. The end result is a hearty, rich and flavorful soup, chock full of soft onions, tender barley, and immensely delicious mushrooms. And Burros is spot-on: the wine vinegar (and sherry) give this soup a great "sparkle," as she calls it.

Mushroom and Barley Soup
adapted from New York Times, Marian Burros, 2002

1/3 cup dried mushrooms like porcini (my store only had Chanterelles)
2 TBS oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound white mushrooms, washed, trimmed and coarsely cut
1/2 pound shiitake, cremini, portobello or other mushrooms, washed, trimmed and coarsely cut
1/2 cup pearled barley
6 cups no-salt-added beef broth or stock (I used pareve beef bullion cubes mixed into vegetable broth)
3 TBS dry sherry (could omit, but I think it adds a great level of flavor! We happened to have a bottle in the liquor cabinet)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 TBS wine vinegar

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup hot water, and set aside for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Finely chop mushrooms.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed deep pot. Sauté onions and carrots over medium heat until onions begin to color. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds.

Add fresh mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes, until they begin to release liquid.

Raise heat and add barley; sauté until it begins to color. Add broth and sherry. Strain mushroom-soaking liquid and add to pot along with reconstituted mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until barley is tender. Stir in vinegar; adjust seasonings and serve.

Yield: About 6 cups.


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