Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mushroom barley soup

I love soup season. Janelle and I made this soup from my Student's Vegetarian Cookbook, and it was fantastic. Plus, cooking is always more fun with friends. :) The cookbook is meant for college students who only want to make 2 or 3 servings, so we doubled the recipe. Other changes we made are in italics. Bon apetite!

1 tablespoon chopped dried shiitake mushrooms (we used more - like a handful)
1/2 cup hot water for soaking mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 small)
4 fresh mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup thinly sliced carrot (about 1)
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
we also added 2 bouillon cubes for taste - 1 for a single batch

1. Soften the shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes, then dice the fresh mushrooms. Reserve the soaking liquid. Heat the oil in a 3-4 quart pot (bigger for a double batch) over medium heat. Add the shiitake mushrooms, onions, fresh mushrooms, carrot, celery and barley. Saute on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the vegetables and barley do not burn. Keep an eye on the bottom of the pot and reduce the heat if the saute is sticking or browning too quickly.

2. Add the flour, stirring continually for 1 minute. Immediately add 3 cups of water and the mushroom soaking liquid. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a big spoon to incorporate any flour that may stick to the bottom. This step is important because the flavor from the saute is in the stuff that may be on the bottom of the pot. Continue scraping and stirring until the bottom of the pot feels smooth, about 1 minute.

3. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the barley is tender. Stir the pot occasionally as the soup cooks. Taste for seasoning, then add salt and pepper if necessary.

Makes 2-3 servings

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