A Simple Mushroom Barley Soup

Two weeks ago, I taught the first in a series of soup classes to a group of seniors at our local community center. The Simple Lentil Soup I made was a huge hit with this group of seniors!

They were surprised by how easy it was to make this lentil soup, and loved the red lentils that cooked down so quickly. I served this hearty lentil soup with a light green salad with fresh red currants, oranges, and toasted almonds (drizzled with a fresh orange vinaigrette), along with some toasted whole grain bread, that had been lightly brushed with a mixture of olive oil, a Fines Herbes blend, salt and pepper. This group of seniors enjoyed a simple, but elegant and healthy lunch.

Today is the second soup class I'll be teaching, and based on feedback from the first class, Mushroom Barley Soup seems to be another favorite soup (they did request that I add sherry to the soup!). Mushroom Barley Soup is a really hearty, comforting winter soup, full flavored even without any meat. The soup I'll be making will have lots of umami, since I'll be using both cremini mushrooms and dried porcini mushrooms, tomato paste and soy sauce.

Since the goal of these soup cooking classes is to encourage seniors to get back into the kitchen to cook, I approached this recipe the same way as I did for the Simple Lentil Soup. I wrote a simple recipe with a short list of basic ingredients, and then included optional add-ins for anyone a bit more adventurous, or looking for a little more depth of flavor.

Simple Mushroom Barley Soup 

Cremini mushrooms are richer in flavor than white button mushrooms, but any mushrooms will do. Although the basic recipe is delicious on its own, I would encourage you to try some of the optional add-in's, especially the porcini mushrooms, tomato paste and soy sauce. These add another layer of flavor (more umami) and richness to this soup.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 package (about 10 ounces) cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup barley

10-12 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper, to taste

Optional Add-Ins:

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

a few splashes of sherry

  • Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms, and cook until vegetables are softened and mushrooms are a nice deep brown, about 10 minutes. 
  • Add barley, 10 cups of stock, and thyme. 
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until barley is tender, about 1 hour. Add more stock if soup is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you're using any of the add-ins, here are the modifications to the directions:

  • Add garlic in the first step.
  • Add oregano, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and soy sauce in the second step.
  • Add parsley and a few splashes of sherry in the third step.


from Jeanette's Healthy Living



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