Posts tagged ‘Soup’

February 24, 2014

Mushroom Barley Soup


I’ve always made beef barley soup, but this week I wanted to make a no meat version with lots of mushrooms. I love the combination of barley and mushrooms. When making beef barley soup, the first step is always browning the meat. Step two is, of course, deglazing all that brown good stuff off the bottom of the pot. I was concerned that absent the whole meat searing process, this soup wouldn’t hit the mark… so glad I was wrong. I’m sure it’s because I used dried porcini mushrooms. The dark, woodsy liquid that’s left behind when you reconstitute the mushrooms is heavenly. In fact, I read that the flavor imparted by porcini mushrooms is considered umami. Who knew? I’m certain it was the key to the richness of this delicious soup.

I used my beef barley recipe as the basis for making this, but did a little poking around online to see what others had to say. They all pretty much use the same basic ingredients, though some add a little vinegar or wine, and others soy sauce. I opted for soy sauce and it was the perfect addition to round out the flavor. theKitchn has a great tutorial on how to prepare dried porcinis. I’ve included details below, but you should have a look at their site too. They did a nice job with the step by step, including pictures.

I just realized that I made it all the way to this point and managed not to mention the weather. A few days at 50 degrees has made it much more tolerable. However, according to Alan the Polar Vortex is back! I guess the down jackets aren’t getting put away anytime soon. Spring where are you? Sigh. Nothing else to do but eat soup.



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, thick sliced
  • 16oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 16oz white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1oz dried porcini mushrooms, liquid reserved (see below)
  • 15oz can diced tomato
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 quarts (64oz) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste

* I used chicken stock to make this because it’s what I had on hand. Vegetable stock would be perfect too and would make this completely vegetarian.

1. Heat a large heavy bottom stock pot (I used a 9qt Le Creuset Dutch oven) over medium heat and add the olive oil. Saute the onions, garlic and carrots until softened.

2. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their juices and it begins to evaporate, stirring often.

3. Add the sherry, stir and allow to evaporate slightly.

4. Add the tomatoes, soy sauce, thyme, reserved liquid from the porcinis, stock and barley. Season with salt and pepper and combine. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Allow to cook covered for about an hour (or even more is great), stirring occasionally.

5. Taste and reseason as necessary. Once the barley is tender, the soup is done.




Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Pour 1 cup of warm tap water over the mushrooms, press them into the water so they are submerged and allow to sit for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms feel soft. Set a small strainer lined in cheese cloth over a second bowl, and pour the mushrooms through the strainer. Using your hands, gently squeeze any additional liquid in the mushrooms over the strainer. Set the liquid to the side. I rinse the mushrooms at this point to make sure any leftover grit is gone. Shake out any excess water and chop the mushrooms.

Set the chopped mushrooms and the reserved liquid aside until your ready to use them. Be careful to pour the reserved liquid into the soup pot slowly, making sure anything that has settled in the bottom of the bowl stays there.


December 10, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup with Parmesan Toasts


We had our first real snow storm today. They cancelled school before a single snow flake hit the ground. The automated call comes in a little before 6am and always gives me a flash back to snow days when I was growing up. Who remembers sitting by the radio waiting to hear your school district’s number? We never got a phone call and I can’t remember if the news had that little ticker thing along the bottom listing the school closings. I only remember sitting and listening to the radio. 767 is the number that comes to mind. I wonder if that’s right?

We spent most of those snow days outside. There were open fields where houses now sit. I can remember kids riding snowmobiles, making their way through the fields to get to where the snow day “action” was. This “action” normally meant the place where everyone was standing around. Kids did a lot of standing back then. Once you got your driver’s license (woot! woot!), you could drive around, only to stop the car and stand around with a group of kids. These days I can’t wait to just sit down.

From Jerry Seinfeld… “Wait up!” That’s what kids say. They don’t say “wait”, they say “Wait up! Hey, wait up!” ‘Cause when you’re little, your life is up. The future is up. Everything you want is up. “Wait up! Hold up! Shut up! Mom, I’ll clean up! Let me stay up!” Parents of course are just the opposite. Everything is down. “Just calm down. Slow down. Come down here. Sit down. Put that down.”

What does this have to do with soup? Nothing really, it’s just that when it snows I always feel like cooking, and a big bowl of this belly warming soup would be perfect on a day like today. 

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa




  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/2lb chicken sausage, out of the casing
  • 2/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 large cloves garlic,minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup combination grated Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients above in a large bowl. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Make meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. You should get somewhere around 30 meatballs depending on how big you make them. Bake in the preheated oven for about half an hour or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 3 stalks celery, small dice
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup orzo
  • Small handful chopped fresh dill
  • 10 oz baby spinach
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Heat a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions, celery and carrots until they begin to soften. Season the vegetables with a little salt & pepper. Add the chicken stock, wine and meatballs to the pot and allow the soup to simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer until the pasta is al dente… check the pasta package for timing. Stir in the spinach and dill right before serving, spinach will wilt. Serve immediately with Parmesan toasts and extra grated cheese on the side.



  • One loaf hearty rustic bread of choice
  • A little olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, cut in half
  • Grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the bread into 1/2 inch thick slices and put on a foil lined sheet pan. Brush a little olive oil on the tops of each toast. Place in the preheated oven for about 6-8 minutes until crisp and a little golden. As soon as you remove the toasts from the oven, lightly rub the cut side of the garlic clove on the top of each slice and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese. Serve on the side with the soup.

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