Recently, every time I cook some sort of legume, J. thinks I’ve said I’ve cooked barley. Then he is sorely disappointed when a bowl of Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Soup or Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Flanken appears, instead of the mushroom barley soup he thought I’d made. He is no legume lover. I finally got the hint and put the kind of soup he wanted on my menu.
I based my soup on the recipe for Zingerman’s Ann Arbor Mushroom and Barley Soup, though I omitted the flour (with the barley, I don’t think the soup needs additional thickening) and used vegetable stock rather than beef stock. This makes the meal vegetarian, and it is indeed a full meal — the barley bulks up the soup significantly, and if you have leftovers you’ll find the barley continues to expand, giving the dish the consistency of stew.
I had pearl barley in my pantry, so I used that for the soup. Pearl barley is more processed than whole barley — both its hull and bran are removed as opposed to just the hull in whole barley — so it is less nutritious. I’m going to look for whole barley next time I’m at the store; I never knew there was a whole grain alternative to pearl.
Vegetarian Mushroom Barley Soup
Adapted from Zingerman’s Ann Arbor Mushroom and Barley Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery with leaves, cut in halve lengthwise and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 qt. vegetable stock
1 lb. Baby Bella mushrooms (or another kind), sliced
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water
1 c. pearl barley
salt & pepper to taste
¼ c. parsley, chopped (a small bunch, plus some for garnish)
Heat oil in a stock pot, and add onions. Cook over medium-high heat, until they start to soften. Add celery, carrots, and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add stock, mushrooms, and barley to the pot, give it a stir, and adjust heat so the soup simmers while covered. Keep the soup covered, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the barley is done. (If the soup is too thick for your taste, try adding more vegetable stock or water about a half cup at a time.)
Season with salt & pepper and stir in the parsley just before serving.