Friday, November 3, 2017

Mushroom and Barley Soup


Do you know what it's like when you have something that tastes so utterly fantastic at a restaurant that you become obsessed with trying to recreate the recipe at home? (Hmmm, maybe that's just me!). 

Last week, I had lunch with some dear friends at a downtown restaurant and had a delightful bowl of mushroom and barley soup that was so full of flavor, I had to figure out how to make it.  Sometimes, being in an atmosphere of camaraderie makes everything taste better so I was anxious to see if my research and effort paid off. If you love mushrooms and mushroom soups, this is one of the best I've tried and was equally good as the restaurant version!


After all, it is November, or NovemBrrrr I should say! We had a couple of light frosts the last week of October and finally had to turn on the heat. If you are craving warm, earthy and comforting food, this mushroom and barley soup delivers! The savory, almost meaty, flavor of the mushrooms in a rich broth has a wonderful mouth-feel and the barley makes it satisfying bowl of soup.  Just add some crusty bread, a salad, and perhaps a glass of wine.

Did you know mushrooms are good for you too?  Rich in B vitamins and in disease-fighting phytochemicals, eating them regularly has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer in studies of Chinese and Korean women. They have also prevented prostate cancer cells from multiplying in mice and might do the same in men. They are also a good source of selenium.


The leaves are falling, the winds are blowing and a chill is in the air. Let's have soup!


Mushroom and Barley Soup


Serves 6 to 8

1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms 
1 ounce dried Shiitake mushrooms
4 strips meaty bacon, diced
1-1/2 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 small onion, chopped into small dice 
2 carrots, chopped into small dice 
1 stalk celery, chopped into small dice 
1 shallot, chopped 
2 large cloves garlic, chopped 
1 pound baby Portabella mushrooms, quartered and sliced 
1-1/2 tablespoon soy sauce 
1/3 cup dry sherry 
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups chicken stock 
4 cups vegetable stock
1-1/2 teaspoons salt 
3/4 teaspoon pepper 
Fresh parsley, chopped

Note: You can make this soup vegetarian by eliminating the bacon. Sauté the vegetables in oil and replace chicken stock with all vegetable stock.  Please don't omit the dried mushrooms and reserved mushroom-soaking liquid.  They are essential to the complex flavor of this soup.  Amazon sells the Mycological Brand of dried mushrooms quite reasonably as an 'Add On' Item to your order. 

Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 3/4 cup hot water and soak to soften while proceeding with the rest of the recipe. Important - Reserve the soaking water! 

In a soup pot over medium low heat, add the diced bacon sauté slowly, until evenly browned. Stir in the tomato paste and allow to caramelized just a bit. 

Reduce the heat to low, and add the chopped onions, carrots, celery and shallot to the pot and sauté about 10-12 minutes, until softened. 

Turn the heat back up to medium and add the garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release their moisture. 

Remove the rehydrated mushrooms from the soaking water (reserving liquid), and chop. 

Add the chopped, rehydrated mushrooms and the barley to the pot and mix to combine. 

Add the dry sherry and soy sauce and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. 

Add the stocks and the reserved liquid from the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. 

Turn heat down to low and simmer soup, covered, for 60 to 90 minutes, until the barley is softened. 

Add chopped parsley just before serving. 

Tip: Freeze the rest of the unused tomato paste in 1 Tablespoon portions in plastic wrap bundles. Place inside a zipper bag and keep in the freezer until you need a small portion of tomato paste again. 

Recipe inspired by Food 52

35 comments:

  1. I am going to steal your recipe and try this as soon as I get some pearl barley. I wonder if I can make this with whole barley grain because I still have 2 kilos in the pantry.
    It looks super yummy, Susan.

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    1. Thanks, Angie! From what I've read, whole barley takes longer to cook than pearl barley so perhaps you could cook it partially apart from the soup and then add it in later? Hope you enjoy it was much as we did, Angie :)

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  2. Yep, we had a couple days of soup weather here too... Sounds great:@)

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    1. Thanks, Lynn. Nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a chilly evening :)

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  3. Stews and soups are the best things to eat when the temperature dips, this looks so rich and delicious like so many of your wonderful recipes Susan, have a nice weekend my dear,warm hugs from Trieste !

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    1. Thank you, Chiara! Love your new profile pic too ;) xo

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  4. I can't wait to try it..I am running out of dry mushrooms but saw some at Costco..industrial sized container..if you freezethem they last forever.A restauranteur told me:)
    November is the gloomiest sometimes and this hearty soup can make a day seem cozier for sure.And you are so right about an ambiance making food taste better.I am like you..I try and recreate..because we eat out so very seldomly it has only happened a few times..but our lunches in Provence changed that..and I have recreated a couple so far:)
    Thanks for the recipe and the pretty fall collage:)
    To me barley and mushrooms are a match made in heaven.

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    1. Thank you for the tip on freezing dried mushroom, Monique! It's a rainy and chilly day here and wish we still had some of this soup. Everything must have tasted delicious in Provence :)

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  5. Decades ago, I had a creamy pea soup at La Escoffier in the Beverly Hilton. Oh my! It was wonderful. I'm still trying to recreate it!! Thanks for your research. I'm printing this out to make when winter winds blow.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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    1. I love pea soup too, Bonnie! It's definitely a soup day here today - rainy and chilly.

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  6. I'm always trying to recreate restaurant dishes. So much fun. I made some barley soup last night - tis the season. For the first time, I tried quick cooking barley. It as just fine but not nearly as good as pearl. And I love the addition of sherry in your soup. Always brings such a unique savory note.

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    1. I think the dried mushroom liquid, the sherry and the soy sauce really made the broth exceptional, Lea Ann. Thank you!

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  7. Oh this does sound fabulous and what a perfect way to welcome fall! This is one I will for sure try soon!

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  8. This soup looks absolutely wonderful Susan ! Always I love soups, always!! xo

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  9. Susan, this photo is the epitome of fall. It's finally soup weather here, and mushroom soup is a favorite here too.
    I'm intrigued by the addition of pearl barley in your recipe and the wonderful texture it must bring to the soup. Looks so welcoming and delicious!

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    1. It's so good, Sol! Since we'll be eating soup for the next several months (at least here) it's nice to have another good recipe in the arsenal.

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  10. It may not be soup weather here in Florida but that won't stop me from making your soup.

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    1. You probably have a chillier night here and there but nothing like your former home in New Hampshire :) Hope you enjoy it!

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  11. What a wonderful, comforting bowl of deliciousness! I really want to give this recipe a try. I adore mushrooms and this rich soup sounds fantastic. I am very obsessed with recreating recipes too :) Happy weekend!

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    1. Oh, it's so good, Tricia! Glad to hear I'm not alone in my obsession :) Thanks so much!

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  12. This sounds fantastic, Susan! I've been having some of the new Yes brand soups, think they are made by Campbell. They are so full of beans and grains and good-for-you ingredients. I eat soup almost every day for lunch-even in the summer! So I was thinking of searching out some recipes like these. Voila! Here you are!

    A few questions: Where do you find the dried mushrooms in your grocery store? Can you substitute white wine, or red, for sherry?

    I'm wondering if you have ever tried the tubes and small jars of tomato paste? They are usually in the produce aisles by the herbs or salad dressing. Never a waste.

    Thanks for another winner of a recipe!

    Jane x

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    1. I've not see the Yes brand yet, tanks for the heads up. Perhaps these have less sodium that the usual too? I find dried mushrooms in the produce department of my grocery store but in other stores I've found them in the Asian products aisle. I think an Asian specialty store, if you have one nearby, would also be a good place to look. You are so right about the tubes but I find even those don't stay as fresh as I'd like from one use to the next. Thanks, Jane!

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  13. I love barley soup with mushrooms or beef. It's so good and satisfying especially on a cold winter or fall day.

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  14. I've started a collection of soup recipes for the next six months...LOL...this sounds wonderful Susan.

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    1. Sounds like it's going to be a delicious fall and winter, Debbie :) Thanks!

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  15. What a gorgeous soup and it sounds so delicious! I'm a serious soup lover and I've already printed this one out! Can't wait to make a batch, Susan. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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    1. Thank you AND you're welcome ;) I hope you enjoy it, Marcelle!

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  16. This is definitely our kind of soup! It looks delicious, Susan! And perfect for this 40 degree day! Thanks!

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    1. This November has been chilly, that's for certain, Pam! It's is so satisfying too. Thank you!

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  17. Hi Susan, love that you used 3 kinds of mushrooms and I absolutely adore the color of the broth, looks delicious, one of my favorites for sure!!!

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  18. This is one of my favorite soups, I think mainly because my grandmother used to make it. I don't have her recipe and use one I found in a book, but I think yours could be nicer. I'm trying it!
    Amalia
    xo

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