Every winter I make this soup at least twice, it’s perfect for lunch or dinner and particularly great to have on hand when the weather gets really chilly. The hearty texture and rich mushroom-y flavor will sooth and warm you in an instant and give sustenance for hours.
I always use whole barley rather than pearled, as the former has all its vitamin and minerals intact; therefore, is higher in iron, protein, calcium and fiber. Whole barley is chewier and will take longer to cook. Like pearled barley, it creates a delicious creaminess in the broth and has a rich complex flavor that I know you will love.
Mushroom barley soup
This soup is made with 3 kinds of mushrooms but I have made it with just crimini or button mushrooms and was just as happy with the flavor. You can also vary the herbs or vegetables according to what you have on hand. I used some dark miso to season the soup, but you could use any kind. Just use the sea salt and tamari if you don’t have any miso on hand.
This recipe makes quite a large pot of soup. It will keep well for up to 4 days, but the recipe could also be halved.
1 ¼ cups hulled barley, soaked overnight
3 bay leaves
2 inch piece kombu
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
2 large carrots, cut in ½ inch dice
2 stalks celery, cut in ½ inch dice
2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2 inch cube)
1 cup diced cabbage (1/2 inch dice)
½ pound fresh shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
½ pound crimini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
5 medium portobello mushrooms, stemmed, halved and sliced
2 teaspoons barley or brown rice miso (optional)
Naturally fermented tamari or shoyu
Chopped parsley to garnish
Drain barley, rinse and place in a medium sized pot with bay leaves and kombu. Add 6 cups of filtered water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours or until grains are soft and open. Remove kombu and set aside.
Warm half the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté for a couple of minutes, add a pinch of salt and the garlic, and continue cooking for a couple more minutes. Stir in the thyme and rosemary. Add the carrots, celery, squash and cabbage. Cook for a few minutes then add the barley and cooking liquid, plus 2 cups of water. Raise heat and bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Warm the remaining olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. (If you don’t have a large enough skillet, you can cook them in a couple of batches). Sauté, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook until softened and starting to brown. Stir mushrooms into the barley and vegetables, adding a cup of water if soup is too thick. Simmer for 15 minutes or longer to allow flavors to marry.
Dissolve miso in a small bowl with a little broth from the soup and stir back into pot. Add black pepper and tamari or shoyu to taste.
Remove from heat and serve with chopped parsley.
Serves 8 people
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