Barley, an excellent source of minerals and fiber, deserves its renaissance in the modern kitchen. Thanks to a partial pureeing, this creamy soup supports meaty fall mushrooms. Add a Parmesan rind to the broth as it simmers for a boost in flavor.
Savory Barley Soup with Wild Mushrooms and Thyme
1⁄2 oz. (15 g) dried porcini mushrooms
1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry white wine
1 Tbs. olive oil
1⁄2 cup (2 oz./60 g) chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. (250 g) cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme, or 1⁄2 tsp. dried
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) vegetable broth
3⁄4 cup (6 oz./185 g) pearl barley
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Rinse the porcini well to remove any dirt or grit. In a small saucepan, bring the wine to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the porcini. Let stand for 15 minutes, then drain the porcini over a bowl, reserving the liquid, and finely chop.
In a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until the shallots are wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cremini, thyme, 1⁄4 tsp. salt, and 1⁄4 tsp. pepper. Cook until the cremini release their liquid and begin to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the pan bottom.
Add the broth, barley, tomato paste, 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) water and the chopped porcini to the pot. Cover and simmer until the barley is tender to the bite, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Puree about 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) of the soup in a blender. Return to the pot, heat until just hot and stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 4.
Find more soup recipes for every season and occasion in our cookbook Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day, by Kate McMillan.