Mushroom Barley Soup – Comfort food at its best

When it comes to stick-to-the-ribs fare, this soup definitely fits the bill. It not only provides a bounty of health benefits but I simply love its taste – the barley-mushroom combo is one of my favourites.

Barley is packed with fibre – including the soluble variety with its cholesterol-lowering and blood sugar regulating perks. Add in its prebiotic effects and this whole grain deserves a regular spot on your menu.

The mushrooms, both dried and fresh, are no slouches either nutritionally speaking. They offer an assortment of benefits including those promoting a healthy immune system in addition to anti-cancer action.
I also sometimes throw in about a cup dried lima beans (which I have pre-soaked for a few hours) and then simply increase the amount of broth.

This brings up a point about soups. Use recipes such as this as a starting off point, not as directions carved in stone. Want more mushrooms – just add them. Play it by ear. If you’ve added a little bit more barley and your soup is too thick, add more broth.

If you have a large soup pot, double the recipe and put some in the freezer for another meatless Monday.

Mushroom Barley Soup

Makes 8 servings

1 ounce dried mushrooms (such as porcini)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 parsnip, diced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
3/4 cup barley, preferably pot barley
8 cups low-salt beef, chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over dried mushrooms; soak for 25 minutes. Coarsely chop soaked mushrooms and set aside. Strain soaking liquid through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or a coffee filter and set aside the liquid.

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat; add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add celery, carrots, parsnip and mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Add barley, chicken or vegetable broth and reserved mushroom liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until barley is tender. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Nutrition information per serving:
• Calories: 150
• Protein: 6 grams
• Fat: 2 grams
• Saturated fat: less than 1 gram
• Carbohydrate: 15 grams
• Dietary fibre: 4 grams
• Sodium: 275 milligrams

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Categories: Recipes

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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