This French onion soup is chock-full of fiber-rich barley for a tasty variation on the classic. You can omit the sherry or replace it with white wine if you wish.
1 cup boiling water
1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 (12-ounce) lean boneless sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch strips
4 cups water
2/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can beef consommé
12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese
How to Make It
Combine boiling water and shiitakes in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain the shiitakes in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid. Slice shiitakes, discarding stems.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallots, ginger, and garlic; sauté 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the shiitakes, button mushrooms, sugar, and beef. Sauté 10 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add reserved mushroom liquid, 4 cups water, and the next 4 ingredients (water through consommé); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 ovenproof soup bowls; top each serving with 2 bread slices and 2 tablespoons cheese. Broil 3 inches from heat 1 minute or until cheese melts. Serve immediately.
Note: This soup will freeze well for up to two months. Pour into an airtight container, leaving enough room for expansion (usually an inch or two at the top). To reheat, thaw completely in the refrigerator; then place contents in a saucepan over low heat, adding some liquid if necessary.