Food & Drink

Mushroom soup is a meal in a dish

A hearty, healthy soup.
A hearty, healthy soup. FOTOLIA

I love one-dish soup meals. Just add bread and a salad and you are ready to eat. This hearty version of a classic deli-style soup is loaded with both pungent dried mushrooms and fresh, earthy cremini mushrooms.

Feel free to select any combination of dried mushrooms you prefer to create your own personal stamp. I try to find packages that have a variety of mushrooms for a more complex flavor. Adding soy sauce at the end of cooking brings out the rustic, earthy flavors of the mushrooms. Even though this is a clear-based soup, the barley makes it more substantial.

This vegetarian version can stand on its own. If you want a more substantial soup, add a skinless turkey thigh or a pound of beef flanken to the soup as it simmers. Just before serving, shred the turkey or flanken and return to the pot.

Pearl barley is barley that has the bran removed and is then steamed and polished. This helps it cook a little faster than regular unprocessed barley. This soup freezes well and can be prepared several days ahead.

Diane Rossen Worthington:

Mushroom Barley Soup

1 ounce dried porcini or morel or other dried mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 /2pound fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup pearl barley

8 cups vegetable or chicken broth

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

COVER the dried mushrooms with 2 cups boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Squeeze them dry and reserve the soaking liquid. Cut them into 1/4 inch cubes. Set aside.

HEAT oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute onions and leek until soft, about 3 minutes. Add celery, carrots, shiitake and white mushrooms, and sauté 3-5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add barley and stock and bring to a boil. (This is where you may add the turkey or beef.) Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.

SIMMER covered for 1 1/2 hours, or until the barley is tender but not mushy. Strain the soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms to remove any grit and add 1/2 cup of the liquid to the soup along with the dried mushrooms. Add soy sauce and parsley and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve.

NOTE: May be prepared up to three days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Reheat gently. Also freezes well. Adjust the seasonings when you reheat the frozen soup.

Yield: 6 servings.