Make this hearty Mushroom Barley Soup to warm up on a cold day. Serve with sourdough toast for a lunch or dinner that truly satisfies.
1 cup barley
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
20 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
8 sprigs fresh thyme
Sourdough or other country bread, toasted (optional)
How to Make It
In a medium pan, bring the barley and 4 cups of water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until the onions have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and cook, covered, for 6 minutes more. Add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, covered, until they release their juices, about 4 minutes. Add the broth, bay leaves, and thyme and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked barley and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves. If desired, season with additional salt and pepper and serve with the sourdough toast.
Tip: If you have a few minutes to spare, bring out the barley's nutty flavor by sauteeing the uncooked grain with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter over medium heat for a few minutes before adding the water.
I recently made this recipe for lunch for myself and my husband, but I did make a few changes. I had another recipe that used quick-cooking barley (I was able to find Quaker brand), so I tried it and it worked great. It really shortens the cooking time. Basically, you just add it to the soup when you add the broth, bring it to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes. To add flavor, I added a tablespoon of lemon juice right at the end. I know it sounds strange, but it works. If you don't like the flavor of lemon, white wine or red wine vinegar will have the same effect. It just brightens up the flavor. I have found this also works for some canned soups (on those rare occasions when you don't have time to cook). I also shaved slivers of Parmesan using a vegetable peeler over each serving...it just melts into the soup. One last thing, I substituted cilantro for the parsley since I always have it on hand and we actually prefer it. Since the barley is very filling, we didn't have the bread on the side. We did have leftovers, though, and they heated up great in the microwave. Happy cooking :)
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