Mushroom Barley Soup

This soup is one of my all-time favorites. I think that I do not make it enough and I should. It is hearty, loaded with fiber and warms you on a cold winter day. Adding mushrooms is another bonus. How could I possibly go wrong with a soup like this?

Mushroom Barley Soup
Created recipe on 01/22/2010

1 (8 oz) container of button mushrooms
1 (8 oz) container of Portobello mushrooms
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
3 large carrots peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
3 stalks of celery with leaves in the center of the celery chopped
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup of good red wine ( you can omit this but to my surprise I found that using the wine really makes the soup rich tasting, and I even added a little extra for the boost in flavor)
8 cups of broth (I used beef and mushroom broth in this recipe but I have made it using vegetarian broth. Either way the results are excellent!)
5-1/2 oz of barley quick cooking this is approx 1 to 1-1/2 cups of barley
2 corn on the cob – corn sliced off the cob or you can substitute 1 cup of frozen corn
1 cup of frozen lima beans
1 cup of frozen baby peas
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and cracked fresh pepper to taste

Make the sofrito (see cooking tip #2 for picture) with the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the soup pot over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes to get the vegetables going and the flavors to marry. Add the cleaned sliced mushrooms (see cooking tip #4 for cleaning mushrooms) to the sofrito. Stir for about 2 minutes so that the mushrooms absorb the extra oil in the bottom of the pan so the soup does not have that oily look on the top when done cooking. Add the water and choice of bouillon, bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 45 minutes. Add the barley, corn, lima beans, peas, thyme and wine and cook for another 45 minutes. The soup will thicken and you may need to add more broth to reach the desired consistency of the soup you prefer.  Flavor with salt and pepper to your taste.  Note: when adding liquid you will need to taste the soup to make sure the seasonings do not need to be adjusted. For example: may need to add a splash of wine, or a ¼ teaspoon of bouillon. Serve with whole wheat croutons. See below for recipe. Enjoy!

Wheat Croutons
About 4 thick slices of crusty wheat or whole grain bread (I had bread I made in my bread machine left over frozen in the freezer. I thawed out the bread and used that for the croutons. I am hooked – I think I will do this from now on – I love it!)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of melted butter
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of fresh or dried parsley

Brush olive/butter mixture over sliced bread both sides and cut into 1-1/2” cubes. Spread single layer over a cookie sheet or stone and bake in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the bread becomes hard and crunchy.  Cool to touch and put about 5 to 6 croutons on top of the soup. Yum!

Mushroom Barley Soup

Cooking Tip: The broth I made from a product called “Better than Bouillon”. I find that it has less sodium than some of the broths and / or cubes of bouillon out on the market and I only need to use a little bit of it because the flavor goes a long way. I prepared the broth per the manufacturer’s directions. For the soup – I just added the 8 cups of water to the prepared sofrito and then added 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of beef and 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of mushroom bouillon to the water.

Nutritional Tip: Barley has so many health benefits. It is a soluble fiber that may help prevent many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and many gastrointestinal disorders like Internal Bowl Syndrome (IBS) and colon cancer.  The American Dietetic Association (ADA) suggests that adults should consume at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day and studies show that Americans consume only 50% of the required amount daily. 1/3 cup of barley consists of 0.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of dietary fiber, and only has 160 calories.



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