Since I was a little girl, I had a favourite soup. The one that brings back the best memories is Mushroom Barley. The mushrooms in the soup have a soft texture and a beautiful aroma. The barley in this soup creates a lovely and satisfying thickness. As a whole, mushroom barley soup fulfills three of my five senses – taste, sight and smell.
Today, this soup brings me back to when I was a little girl. Simply catching a hint of the mushrooms, transports me back to the age of 5, 8, 13, 19, and so on…
Two summers ago, I visited my family in Europe and was reminded of this, my favourite soup. Most of the ingredients may be grown in your own vegetable garden and stored in a cold cellar. It’s the perfect soup to prepare on a cold winter’s day.
As a child, we immigrated to Canada from Russia and imported many culinary traditions. Growing up, soup was a regular part of our diet. Every meal began with soup and my mom would prepare borscht, stchi, fish soup, chicken bouillon, mushroom barley, and others. I loved many of the soups, but mushroom barley was my most favourite.
The cost of making this soup was very little. All that was needed was a couple packages of dried mushrooms, barley, and a few vegetables. The ingredients were simple, but the flavour was rich and heavenly. I loved the smell and taste of this soup. The texture of the wild mushrooms, was even better!
For a poor immigrant family, this soup was a satisfying and filling treat. It was healthy and packed with vitamins. Mom would serve it with a fresh slice of dark rye bread. It was the perfect meal!
Many of the ingredients in this soup may be grown in your vegetable garden. Potatoes, carrots and onions are staple items. They’re fairly simple to grow and store really well over-winter. For specific planting dates, please refer to my Outdoor Planting Calculator.
The dried mushrooms in this soup add flavour and aroma. I try to stock a few packages in the pantry for future use. Barley requires a good rinse prior to using and also stores well and for long periods of time. To add thickness to the soup, potatoes are cooked in the broth then lightly mashed, creating a thicker texture.
If you enjoy mushroom soup, you need to give this recipe a try!
Recipe for Mushroom Barley Soup:
- 3 to 4 packages of dry porcini mushrooms – 25 – 30g each (I like to add lots of mushrooms, but you can use less, if you prefer)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, grated
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into equal-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped (optional)
- 2 tbsp grape seed or olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- salt & pepper, to taste
- sour cream (optional)
Dried porcini mushrooms contain a lot of sand, since they are harvested wild in forests. These mushrooms need to be well cleaned. It can be a bit of a lengthy process, but it’s worth it!
Recipe for Mushroom Barley Soup:
- Place all dried mushrooms in a large bowl and cover with warm or boiled water. Leave to reconstitute for at least 1 hour. (*you will immediately start to smell the aroma of these mushrooms.) Image
- Strain the mushrooms from the liquid and reserve all the liquid. (*except for the very bottom of the pot, which will contain sand.) Image
- Slice any large mushrooms and look over each one for dirt and debris.
- Thoroughly rinse all mushrooms, then add them to a small pot.
- Cover the mushrooms with water and cook for 5 minutes, to soften them slightly.
- Strain mushrooms for a second time, then set them aside in a bowl. Image
- Reserve the strained liquid and add it to the original reserved mushroom liquid.
- Filter out all reserved mushroom liquid, for any sand or other debris and pour clear liquid into a large soup pot.
- Add rinsed pearl barley to the pot, then place pot on the stove.
- After bringing the mushroom liquid to a boil, add potatoes, grated carrots and bay leaves and cook over a medium heat.
- In the meantime, heat oil and butter in a large frying pan until the butter melts, then sauté the onions until soft.
- Once the onions have softened slightly, add in the strained mushrooms and continue to sauté; by sautéing the mushrooms, their flavour and aroma will be released. Image
- Season mushroom mixture with salt and pepper and add it to the soup pot after mushrooms have softened.
- Scrape off browned mushroom bits from the pan, using a few spoons of the broth, then pour this into the soup pot.
- Feel free to add boiled water to the pot, if you would like more liquid in your soup.
- When potatoes are cooked, slightly mash them in the soup pot, using this tool, to break the potatoes into smaller pieces
- Continue to cook the soup until the pearl barley is soft and ready to eat.
- Season soup with salt and/or pepper, to taste.
- (Optional): Add chopped parsley to the pot and cook for a few more minutes.
- When serving, top each bowl with a spoonful of sour cream.
- Serve with a slice of dark rye bread or baguette.
Adding a dollop of sour cream to your bowl will lighten the colour of the soup and give it a slightly tangy flavour. I prefer to eat it this way, however, you can leave it out.
I hope you enjoy my recipe for Mushroom Barley Soup. This is a vegetarian version. However, if you would like to add stewing beef to your soup, you definitely can. I would brown it in a pan, prior to adding it to the soup pot. Then add it in the beginning, when adding your pearl barley.
Please let me know how the soup turns out, by leaving me a comment below.
Happy eating and happy gardening!