Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mushroom Barley Soup ala Risotto

The countdown is on for Hubbs and I to move.  It is officially 4 weeks from today that we will make the drive from Brooklyn to Michigan.  Now is the time to start going through things and getting rid of stuff that isn't going to make the journey with us.  Since living in NY, I've invested in a small chest freezer as well as an additional refrigerator/freezer combo other than the one that comes with the apartment.  I have been teaching so many classes and doing so much testing that I simply needed more space.  Now that the time is drawing near, I'm trying to empty out the freezers and use up everything in there.  Mostly we have a lot of frozen fruit left and some baking chips, gluten free flours, etc.  That is until I discovered a ziploc baggie of mushroom stems.  Soup - the perfect answer!  Now I realize that this is not the perfect weather for soup (high 80's and crazy humid), but I could literally eat soup everyday, multiple times a day.  So I decided to make mushroom stock from the mushroom stems I saved every time I purchased a package of mushrooms.  It makes an amazingly delicious stock.  After going through my pantry as well, I came across half a bag of barley that needed to be used up.  What better way to use the mushroom stems and barley then by making Mushroom Barley Soup? 

I think the last time I ate this soup, that I can recall anyway, was in second grade when we made stone soup, which was actually a barley soup with stones speckled throughout.  Pretty gross to think of now, but it was pretty awesome back then!  This recipe, which I used the Candle Cafe's cookbook as a reference, turned out very tasty, but stupid me got busy packing more and more stuff into boxes, left the pot on the stove over low heat, and ended up not with a soup, but rather, almost a risotto.  But it was still quite tasty!

Mushroom Barley Soup ala Risotto:

Quite tasty.

Serves: 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cup medium diced carrots, about 3 medium
11/2 cups chopped celery, 2 stalks
1 cup medium diced onion, 1 medium
1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
3 cups mushroom stock
3 cups filtered water
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup barley, rinsed
2 bay leaves

1.  In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Allow it to become hot, then add the carrots, celery and onions.  Stir and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, till softened. 
2.  Add the mushrooms and gently stir, trying to keep them whole. 
3.  Add the rinsed barley, stirring to coat with all of the ingredients.  (This is to keep the grains separate.  If you were to add them with the stock at the same time, they would clump together more.)  Once the barley is dry, add the stock, water, salt and pepper and bay leaves. 
3.  Allow the soup ingredients to come to a boil.   Reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about half hour, stirring periodically, until the barley is cooked all the way through. 
4.  To make it into the "risotto" I ended up with, cook it for about double the time over low heat.  ;)


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