My family has a hard time accepting broth based soup. The general thinking is that if you’re having a broth based soup it’s a side dish and can’t possibly be the star of the meal. It demands a sandwich at the very least. More than likely you should just drink water, leave the soup, and actually eat something. Soup is something with cream and preferably cheese. If I serve a broth soup, I’m immediately asked where the rest of the meal is. I think this soup would be an exception. Well, it would be much easier for them to accept than many others anyway.
The broth has an intense bold earthy mushroom flavor that satisfies while the barley provides a stomach satisfying fullness. The mushrooms and barley also provide something to sink your teeth into. Don’t slice your mushrooms to thin, leave them thick enough to take a bite out of. This is a perfect soup to curl up with on a cold blustery day.
Warning: your audience must love mushrooms to like this dish. Those that don’t like mushrooms will hate it and it might be too much for those that are on the fence about ’em.
The main flavor of the soup will be the mushrooms so make sure they are of good quality and flavorful. I used dried chanterelles and fresh criminis. If you want to keep it vegetarian, just use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.
Mushroom Barely Soup
½ oz. dried mushrooms
1 cup water
½ cup each finely diced onion, celery, & carrot
½ Tbsp. minced garlic
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
½ tsp. salt
½ cup white wine
½ tsp. dried sage
1 bay leaf
ground black pepper to taste
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups cooked pearl barley
½ tsp. dried parsley & Italian seasoning blend
3 dashes hot sauce
Parmesan cheese garnish, optional
Place the water and dried mushrooms in a small saucepan. Over low heat, cook the mushrooms until somewhat soft (do not boil or simmer). This will take 20 minutes to one hour. Set aside to cool. Once cool, drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and chop into bite size pieces.
In a large pot heat the oil and sauté the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the rehydrated and fresh mushrooms in stages so as not to lower the pan temperature. Add the salt and sauté until the quantity is reduced by about half.
Add the white wine and mushroom liquid. Bring to a boil for about five minutes then add the bay leaf, sage, barley, pepper, and stock. Bring it back to a boil and add the parsley, Italian seasoning, and hot sauce. Taste for pepper and salt. Add more if needed. Lower heat and simmer for 5-10.
Remove the bay leaf. Serve soup with fresh grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
If you for some reason have leftovers, this soup freezes extremely well.
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