Cream of mushroom soup with Barley

Newsletter - MushroomBarley Soup - Feb15Getting through winter can be hard. If you have never read any of our pieces regarding Vitamin D and its effects on mood, not having enough could be a concern for you. There is far too little time spent outside in the sunshine, what little sun there is, and of course because of the cold you cover the majority of your main vitamin D receptor: your skin. Of course there is an easy way to make sure you are not Vitamin D deficient, like taking drops and pills from the pharmacy, but the recipe that follows is much tastier and will also provide the extra vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

Below is my recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup with Barley – and not from a can!

  • 1/2 cup (100g) dried pearl barley (árpa)
  • 1 liter whole milk (you can use skim but it will be harder to thicken)
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 100g butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced shallots or red onion
  • 500g chopped white/brown mushrooms,
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup (40g) tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives (metélőhagyma)


Soak dried barley overnight (8hrs) in water that is at least twice as much. (The barley will absorb the water, making it edible.)


Remove soaked barley from liquid and rinse for a minute or so. Set aside.

In a large pot of 2-4 liters, heat oil and ⅓ of your butter. Sauté shallots/red onions over medium heat until soft. Add the chopped mushrooms, a pinch or two salt, and sauté until mushrooms are tender; about 10-15 minutes. Stir in remaining butter to melt along with dried thyme.

With a whisk in one hand and spoon in the other, slowly whisk in the flour into the cooked mushroom mixture. You are looking to slowly incorporate it so it looks like a thick, dry paste but not by creating lumps of flour (having someone else gently dust the mix as you are stirring helps).

Increase heat and begin stirring in the milk slowly; leave on medium heat stirring every few minutes. With an immersion blender puree the mixture, leaving some chunks of vegetable. Keep stirring but if the bottom begins to feel like it burning reduce heat. Add barley to the soup.

Once it has thickened reduce heat to low and stir occasionally. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. If soup has become too thick just add additional milk. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped herbs such as chives or parsley.

Did you know?

  • Mushroom DNA is more closely related to humans than to plants.
  • Mushrooms can produce vitamin D by being exposed to sunlight. Exposing the gills of a freshly cut shiitake mushroom to the sun for eight hours can increase its vitamin D content by as much as 4,600 times!
  • White and Brown (crimini) mushrooms are good sources of potassium which helps the body maintain normal heart rhythm, fluid balance, and muscle and nerve function.
  • Mushrooms are an excellent source of copper, which the body needs to produce red blood cells!
  • Barley is one of the oldest domesticated grain crops. It has been cultivated for over 8000 years.
  • English shoe sizes are based on the decree of Edward I in 1305, who ruled that one inch equal three barleycorns.
  • In the US half the barley crop is used for brewing beer and the other half feeding livestock.
  • Barley’s soluble fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and can lower cholesterol. Barley also contains insoluble fiber, which reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and colon cancer

This article appeared in our February, 2015 Newsletter. For further information about the online publication and to sign up, please click here.

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