Mushroom and Barley Soup

~from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

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.

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
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