Mushroom Vegetable Barley Soup
After chicken soup, this is the most comforting soup I know. Staying and warming, it takes the chill out of a January day in no time flat. You can get dried mushrooms at a Jewish or ethnic food store or in Asian markets. Sometimes, I squirt in a dash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar for more character and a shot of dried chilies.
1/2 cup, loosely packed imported dried mushrooms
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
2 garlic cloves – minced
1/2 cup minced onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup dried lima beans
1/4 cup dried green or yellow peas
2 quarts hot chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs fresh parsley – minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1-2 cups, cubed, boiled, diced potatoes or cooked pasta shapes
You may use instant chicken stock, but cut back on the salt as instant chicken soup is always quite salty.
30 minutes before starting soup, soak mushrooms in approximately 1/2 cup water. Do not discard liquid.
In a large pot, (6 to 8 quart stock pot or tall Dutch oven) melt the butter or margarine and sauté the garlic, onion, celery and carrots until lightly browned and softened. Stir in the stock or water, barley, dried legumes, reserved mushrooms and soaking water, salt, pepper, paprika and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans, peas and barley are cooked 2 to 3 hours). Adjust seasonings and add water if soup has thickened too much. Stir in potato cube (or cooked pasta shapes).
You may have to add more water later and spices if soup thickens after being refrigerated as well. Reheat soup on low heat.