Mushroom Barley Soup

An exception for mushroom barley soup

Ynewsletter_-_jan17_mushroombarleysoupou may have noticed that I rarely have soups or salads as the monthly recipe. The fact is I could easily skip both (I know I should eat more salads but I do make up for it with other vegetables). Yes, I can whip up a delicious gazpacho in summertime or rich chicken soup in fall or winter, but it just isn’t a culinary area that excites or inspires me.

On the other hand, my wife can’t go for more than a day or so without a bowl of soup. Honestly, I don’t get it – soup’s just the course standing between you and the actual meal. So when push comes to shove in wintertime and I do want a soup that is filling and warming, the following is at the top of my list (after French onion soup, which I don’t have the time to make properly).

Mushroom barley soup


  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms -if available- rehydrated in 1½ cups of boiling water
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (not needed if using stock cubes)
  • 3-4 twists freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 150g pearled barley (árpa) soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 450g brown mushrooms, cleaned with stems removed and cut into 3/4 cm-thick slices
  • 1.5 l  vegetable broth or water with 3-4 cubes beef stock (check to make sure not too salty)


  • Soak dried porcinis in heatproof bowl
  • In a Dutch oven, or large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add barley and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the flour, stir so it coats the barley and vegetables, and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid (avoid any grit at the bottom of the bowl), brown mushrooms and vegetable/beef broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 20 to 25 minutes.


Did you know?

  • Mushrooms generally reach supermarkets within a day of picking, because everyone wants to buy them while they are pure white. The darker the white button mushroom, however, the richer the flavor. Flavor only starts to develop as the cap opens up and the mushroom develops.
  • The difference between a white and brown (cremini) is just age. The white button mushrooms have been cultivated for that white color and soft texture. In the wild these mushrooms are usually browner.
  • A portobello is just an overgrown white mushroom.
  • The mushroom is a very nutritious food. Differing species can be a good source of vitamin B along with essential minerals such as copper and potassium.
  • Mushrooms consist of around 90% water.
  • Barley is tall grass. It has a hairy, upright stem that can reach nearly 1 meter.
  • Barley contains 8 essential amino acids, vitamins of the B group and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.
  • Edward I of England introduced a new measurement system at the beginning of the 14th century. Three barleycorns were equal to one inch, 39 barleycorns to one foot and 117 barleycorns to one yard. The modern shoe size system originates from then. Size 13, for example, is the length of 13 barleycorns.
  • The greatest producer of barley in the world is Russia, which produces more than 16 metric tons annually.