Recipe: Barley Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup Barley (pearled is ok, I have also seen variations of this recipe that goes up to a full cup of barley as well. Just depends on how much barley you want in it and how thick you want your soup.)
1 Onion, chopped
1 rib celery chopped
1/2 cup of shredded carrots or chopped carrot
1 8oz package of button mushrooms (whole or sliced, choice is yours. I prefer whole chopped)
1 oz of dried mushrooms (I like to use Oyster, Wood's Ear, and Chantrelles. If you don't want to use dried then you can omit them by adding more white buttons or a large portobella cap in its place).
6-8 ounces of Vegetable broth (adjust liquid to your liking for thickness of the soup, less liquid if you want more of a stew)
1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon of Thyme
First, if you are using dried mushrooms, you will need to soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. Reserve 1/2 to 1 cup of the water from draining.
In a saute pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot until soft (about 5 minutes). Put mix into the bottom of a slow cooker. Next layer the barley and mushrooms. Place the tbs of tomato paste and thyme then add the vegetable broth and mushroom liquid you reserved to cover the contents. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 to 6 hours. If the soup is too thick, you can either add more vegetable broth or water to thin it out. At the final cooking stage, you can also add more salt and pepper to your individual liking. If you like a bit of heat, then you can also add hot sauce to it as well. Barley has a very sublte taste to it, so this dish will be more flavored from the mushrooms than the barley.
If you eat meat, you can also add beef or venison to this dish. I would suggest adding 1lb of meat and layering it above the onion, celery, and carrot and then putting the barley on top of the meat. You will need to increase your liquid by 1/2 to 1cup. If you want more of a stew consistancy, you can also increase your barley from 1/2 cup to a full cup. You want to make sure everything is covered with liquid in the slow cooker prior to cooking. This meal is also great served with some hot crusty bread to soak up the broth. Or possibly served in a bread bowl as well.