Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup 1.000

James M. Thresher for The Washington Post

Cooking for One Dec 23, 2009

This thick, deeply flavored soup -- almost a stew -- comes together quickly, thanks to the previously made potato soup base.

Servings: 1 generous serving
  • 1/4 ounce (about 2 tablespoons packed) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 to 3 ounces button or cremini mushrooms (stems included), rinsed, then coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups Savory Potato Soup Base (see related recipe)
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking barley, such as Mother's brand
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for sprinkling (optional)

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Soak the dried porcini in the hot water in a small bowl for 10 minutes. Remove them from the soaking water and squeeze dry, reserving the water. Chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Strain the soaking water through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan; place over medium-high heat.

Add the potato soup base, the soaked and chopped mushrooms and the barley; season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so the soup is barely bubbling at the edges; cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the barley and mushrooms are tender. (If using regular barley instead of quick-cooking, increase the cooking time to about 40 minutes.) The soup will be quite thick.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve hot in a warmed bowl, topped with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of cheese, if desired.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's "Lidia's Family Table" (Knopf, 2004).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.