In winter, when you crave something warm and don’t want another green smoothie, vegetable soups can be your best friend, and this mushroom-barley soup is an all-time classic.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just striving to eat a more healthy diet, nothing is more comforting, and yet the effort to make homemade soup is pretty minimal. They are by far the most versatile of cooked dishes and can be made using many different ingredients or very few ingredients by an experienced cook or a novice.
You can actually eat just a soup for a meal and be done with it!
Just like with smoothies, it’s really hard to spoil the soup, and even if you don’t “love” what you made, it’s usually pretty easy to fix it.
Plus, making your own soup is a great way to save money on food. I’m always shocked to see what grocery stores and specialty shops charge for “homemade” soup. You can easily make 3-4 times the amount for the same price… and then freeze it away for a busy day.
You can use an endless selection of fresh raw ingredients and/or some cooked ingredients, let the mixture bubble away for a short time, and presto, you have created a delicious homemade soup with almost no effort. These are a great healthy standby and are easy to prepare, inexpensive, nourishing and satisfying.
Mushroom-Barley Soup Recipe
Using a variety of mushrooms adds interest to this comfort soup without tampering too much with a classic.
I like to use a variety of white button, cremini, oyster, shiitake and/or portabella, which are readily available where I live.
To add more sophistication and richness to the flavor, I like to add a few pieces of dried wild mushrooms, especially boletus.
Dried boletus should first be soaked for 30 minutes (use the liquid for the soup, as it is highly flavorful). I only add a little, because they are costly, but even a small amount of dried boletus added to ordinary cultivated mushrooms is sure give the dish a much deeper flavor.
Mushroom-barley soup ingredients: the white ingredient on top is cashew cream, my secret ingredient to deliciously creamy soups without dairy. Cashew cream is very easy to make at home. Simply blend a few cashews with water. I also like to add a few peppercorns and blend everything on high in my Vitamix.
Whole grain barley is a healthy high-fiber, high-protein whole grain boasting numerous health benefits. When cooked, barley has a chewy texture and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice.
How to cook barley:
Barley takes about 40 minutes to cook, so if you don’t want to over-cook your vegetables, you can cook it separately and then add to the soup at the end of cooking.
Cover 1 cup of pearl barley with 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and simmer for 30-40 minutes before fluffing with a fork. . Pre-soak barley in plenty of water to cut down on the overall cooking time. Barley can be pre-soaked for an hour or overnight. Pre-soaking will reduce the cooking time to about fifteen minutes. Also, if you can find it, you can buy medium or fine barley, which cooks faster than whole barley pearls.
You will find this and many more soup recipes in my Soup Ebook: Easy Comfort Soup Recipes For Body and Soul.
For less than the price of a few cans of processed organic soup, you can have my collection of the best comfort soup recipes you’ll ever taste. And they’re easy to make, too!