Mushroom and barley soup is one of my favorite soups since childhood. The only difference between now and then is that years ago the soup had to be made from dried mushrooms. Back then in Russia it was not possible to buy a lot of fresh food during winter time, especially mushrooms. Summer was a busy season for making jams, picking wild berries and mushrooms in a forests. However, to be used throughout the year these had to be dried and frozen.
Only the best mushrooms (porcini mushrooms or the like) were used for drying. They were carefully selected, cleaned and hanged on the thread somewhere in the dry and warm corner of the kitchen. There could never be a lot of mushrooms, so the soup was made on special occasions. It was the best soup that I ever had, full of aroma complemented by nice texture of barley. My mom always used to add potatoes to the soup, but I like to cook it without potatoes. Now dried wild mushrooms are expensive, so I use fresh mushrooms and cook this soup very often. But still every time it reminds me of my early days at home.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 celery stick, chopped (optional)
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 8 oz. fresh wild mushrooms
- 1/2 cup barley
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 3 Tbsp. scallions, chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- sour cream for serving (optional)
- fresh herbs for serving
Heat the oil and butter in a large pan until foaming. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened but not colored.
Chop or thinly slice the fresh mushrooms and add to the pan. Stir over a medium heat for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Add the barley, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, half-cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chopped scallions, taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot with sour cream, garnish with fresh herbs.