Day 23 – Soup’s on!
This week I’m all about soup. It was freakin 8 degrees yesterday morning and I am the idiot who never bought real gloves this year. I have those homeless person ones with no fingertips. Great for the iPhone or hitchhiking, bad for fingers.
On a trip to Whole Foods, I swung by the magazine section for some inspiration. Cook’s Illustrated, one of my favorite magazines, created by Christopher Kimball (of America’s Test Kitchen on Public TV) has a special issue out Soups & Stews. Perfect! Many are meat based, but salvageable. The Mushroom-Barley Soup caught my eye. I made very few adjustments to it. Overall, added more barley, shitake mushrooms, sage (Whole Foods didn’t have any thyme, bullsh*t), and used veg stock/water instead of chicken. The result? A delicious, hearty, dare I say meaty, soup to keep you warm on this frigid day. It also happens to be vegan. Enjoy!
NOTES: Recipe calls for 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms. I couldn’t find any so I used the “european blend” which was a combo of morels, porcini and others. It worked fine. Also, my scale is busted so I used a 1/2 cup instead of an ounce. Recipe also calls for a total of 9 cups liquid. I used 4 cups veg broth and 5 cups water. You could use 9 cups of veg broth, or if you’re a meat eater, 9 cups chicken broth. Lastly, recipe calls for 1 pound of mushrooms. Use whatever you want. I did 3/4 pound cremini, 1/4 pound shitake. Portabello and cremini are ideal as they produce meatier flavor.
serves approximately 6
(slightly adjusted from Cook’s Illustrated, Soups & Stews 2011 issue)
1/2 ounce dried exotic mushrooms
4 cups vegetable broth
5 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped medium
1 leek, halved lengthwise then sliced
1 pound mushrooms
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 cup pearl barley
1 bay leaf
1 sprig sage
1/4 tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes
1. Place dried mushrooms in small bowl, cover with 1 1/2 cups hot vegetable broth and soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Save time and microwave the broth in a glass bowl (with enough room to add the mushrooms). Add the mushrooms pushing them down with a fork or spoon to ensure they’re submerged. Cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes. Remove plastic and carefully lift mushrooms from liquid. If there’s any grit, strain the liquid and reserve to use later. Chop reconstituted mushrooms and reserve.
Get your mise en place ready to go!!!
2. Heat oil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and leeks, stirring frequently, until translucent and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until mushrooms are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add carrots and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, but not browned, about 1 minute.
3. Add remaining 7 1/2 cups liquid (either all broth, all water, or combination of the two). Add dried mushroom soaking liquid, chopped reconstituted mushrooms, barley, bay leaf, sage, crushed red chilli pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until barley is tender, about 50 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.