A true Jewish deli classic, mushroom and barley soup is the perfect eastern European recipe to fight the cold weather. In our slightly fancified version, dried porcini mushrooms add intense umami richness for a surprisingly "meaty" vegetarian soup. Then, instead of button or cremini mushrooms, this soup uses a combination of fresh shiitake, maitake, oyster and beech for more flavor and a variety of textures.
Mushrooms are like sponges and contain a great deal of moisture. When searing them, make sure to get your pan extra hot. Don't be afraid if it takes longer than expected, as some mushrooms have more water than others. Just keep cooking them until golden brown and caramelized.
Mushroom and Barley Soup
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
1 cup (1 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups mixed mushrooms (such as shiitake, maitake, oyster and beech), roughly torn
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon flour
7 cups vegetable stock
1 cup pearl barley
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a small bowl, cover the dried porcini mushrooms with the boiling water and let soak until softened, 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid and roughly chopping the porcini.
2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and thyme, and cook until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. Add the celery, garlic, onion and carrot, and cook until softened and lightly caramelized, 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook another 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the reserved soaking liquid and the stock, stirring constantly until incorporated. Add the soaked porcini, three-quarters of the reserved sautéed mushrooms and the barley, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender and the liquid is thickened, 35 to 40 minutes.
4. Stir in the parsley and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper. Divide between bowls and garnish with the remaining sautéed mushrooms and chopped parsley, then serve.