Mushroom Barley Soup is healthy comfort food in my book. Especially this recipe, at 4 Points Plus per serving, a heaping cup is so satisfying and delicious.  The Parmesan rind and barley combine to give this soup it’s rich and creamy texture while the meatiness of the mushrooms satisfies even the biggest carnivores.

I have a special affinity for all soups containing mushrooms and barley as one of my mom’s go-to recipes growing up was a delicious Beef + Mushroom Barley soup.   I spent countless snowy, winter days stuck in the house, impatiently waiting for a bowl of hot soup as the Beef Barley soup cooked for hours so all the flavors could come together.

Since there is no snow on the ground and I definitely do not have hours to wait for a bowl of soup, I made this relatively quick version of a Mushroom Barley Soup.  While the cooking time is 1 Hour, the prep time is pretty short so don’t get turned off by the cook time.

Delicious served with a salad and some toasted, crusty bread with Earth Balance.

The only thing wrong with this recipe is that it only makes 6 portions so I highly recommend doubling and freezing some!

Some additional notes;

  • In regards to the dried mushrooms, almost any dried mushrooms will do; Shitake, Porcini, a blend, etc.  Trader Joe’s usually has dried mushroom that are good and inexpensive.
  • I prefer Dinosaur Kale but Curly Kale would be just fine as well.
  • A Parmesan Rind is essentially the end of the piece of Parmesan.  If you do not usually buy your Parmesan cheese whole and grate it at home, ask your Cheesemonger if they have any Parmesan Rinds they can sell you or buy a small piece of whole Parm and grate off the majority of the cheese into a container.  Whole Foods actually sells them already packaged, they are usually on the display where they sell the Parmigiano Reggiano in small plastic containers.
  • A Bouquet Garni is a fancy way to say a bundle.  I use these Spice Bags but a Tea Ball or Cheesecloth tied with a piece of string would be fine.
  • Barley has a tendency to absorb a lot of liquid, when you refrigerate or freeze this soup, it may need a splash or so of water or broth to loosen up when reheating.

Adapted From: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/06/health/nutrition/05recipehealth.htm

Mushroom Barley Soup with Kale
 
Prep:
Cook:
Total:
 
4 Points Plus Per Serving — Makes 6 Servings — Individual Serving is 1 Heaping Cup
By:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • ½ ounce dried mushrooms
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ pound Crimini mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed and cut into thick slices
  • 1 Portobello mushroom cap, cleaned, stem trimmed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cloves shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, separated (or more to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • ¾ cup pearl barley, uncooked, rinsed
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 head of kale, Lacinato aka Dinosaur, cleaned and stemmed, sliced into ribbons then cut across – see below for instructions
  • A bouquet garni made of:
  • few stems of flat leaf parsley
  • few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 to 3 whole black peppercorns
  • a Parmesan rind
Instructions
  1. Place dried mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water and set aside.
  2. When stemming the kale, hold the thick part of the rib with one hand and pull the kale leaves down the stem with the other hand.
  3. When all kale is stemmed, pile leaves and slice into ribbons. Then cut across kale in one direction.
  4. Leave pile intact and cut across the other direction.
  5. This essentially gives you squares of kale and avoids over-chopping it.
  6. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, add in onion. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Next add in chopped portobello and sliced crimini mushrooms. Let mushrooms soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Add in garlic, shallots and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Let mixture cook for about 5 minutes until liquid releases from mushrooms and it is fragrant.
  9. Next add barley, chicken stock, additional ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, bouquet garni and dried mushrooms including soaking liquid.
  10. Bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  11. When 45 minutes is done, taste barley and make sure it is tender. Add in kale, cook uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the bouquet garni, season with fresh ground black pepper and additional salt if necessary and serve!