This is a nice light soup to serve on the breezy, rainy days of spring. Mushrooms and barley have an affinity for each other, they both have a rounded earthy flavor that in this instance becomes quite sophisticated with the addition of a little sherry or Madiera.
Whole grains like barley are the perfect foods if you are on a budget, a half cup of barley may not seem like that much when you are measuring it out, but it expands to three times its size—any more and you would need an army to take this soup off your hands.
You could make this soup vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and it would be equally delicious. I just happened to have chicken stock on hand so that’s what I used.
MUSHROOM AND BARLEY SOUP RECIPE
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 1 pound white button Cremini, or Portabello mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup dry sherry or Madiera
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup pearl barley rinsed
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot. Add onions, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned, about 10 minutes. Add sherry or madeira and scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until barley is tender, about 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed; remove thyme stems before serving.