My Grandparents came for a visit and to attend the Bat Mitzvah of a close family friend. They arrived a full day early and I wanted to offer them lunch. I knew they'd enjoy my mixed field greens salad with smoked trout and a mustard/lemon/thyme vinaigrette, but what to serve with it? My mother mentioned soup and that's how I hit upon the idea of making my grandfather's favorite, mushroom barley soup and this recipe was born. Cooking the barley in beef stock and fresh thyme really adds an extra dimension of flavor.
Mushroom Barley Soup
7 cups organic beef stock
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
14 oz. mirepoix*
3 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a press
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 to 6 black peppercorns
1 large and 3 medium sprigs of thyme
12 oz. sliced crimini or button mushroom caps
1 cup pearl barley
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Mix barley, 1 cup of water, 3 cups beef stock, whole peppercorns and large sprig of thyme to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, on medium low heat for 30 to 40 minutes.
2. As the barley is cooking, put your soup pot on the burner and turn the heat to medium. When your pot bottom is nice and hot add olive oil, then butter. Pull the thyme leaves off of the medium sprigs and toss in thyme, mirepoix, bay leaf, salt and ground pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, or until onions begin to soften, then add garlic and mushrooms and saute for another 5 to 10 minutes. Cover and allow the mushrooms to sweat, stirring occasionally, for another 20 minutes.
3. When the barley is cooked through, add the remaining 5 cups of beef stock to the mushrooms and veggies in the soup pot, as well as 2 cups of water and the barley, sans the whole peppercorns and large thyme sprig.
4. Fish out the bay leaf, then serve with crusty bread and enjoy.
*I get this from Trader Joe's already chopped and measured, but if you like to do it yourself just make 1 3/4 cups total.
I hope you like this recipe and I welcome your feedback!