Mushroom Barley and Lima Bean Soup -One of my all time favourites

I am undoubtedly a soup lover – hot soups in cold weather and cold soups in summer. Sometimes, though truth be told, I do make hot soups when the outdoor temperatures are not chilling.

But I must admit that the barley-mushroom-lima bean combo is one of my favourites.

Barley also holds a special place in my heart. It’s not because it’s loaded with nutrition with its fibre – including the soluble variety with its cholesterol-lowering and blood sugar regulating benefits or its prebiotic effects, offering fuel for the healthy bacteria in our gut.

While its taste is up there amongst my preferred grains, it’s also nostalgic for me. My mother used to put barley in all kinds of soups. Whether she was making pea soup or a vegetable soup, barley found its way in varying amounts in the soup pot. And my mother’s soups were indeed the best.

The other ingredients are no slouches in terms of nutrition and taste. Getting your fill of pulses offers an array of health benefits. And mushrooms, both dried and fresh, for so long were thought of only in terms of being a low calorie filler but research shows that they also offer a defense against various ills including promoting a healthy immune system along with anti-cancer action.

Be creative

Recipes like  this as a starting off point, not as instructionss carved in stone. Love  mushrooms – just add more. Play it by ear. If you’ve added too much barley and your soup is more like a porridge, add more broth.

If you have a large soup pot, double the recipe so you can keep some in the freezer for another meatless Monday.

Mushroom Barley Lima Bean Soup

Makes 10 servings

1 cup dried lima beans
1 ounce dried mushrooms (such as porcini)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable oil (extra virgin olive or canola)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic. chopped
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
2 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup barley, preferably pot barley
8 cups sodium-reduced or no-salt-added beef, chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak the lima beans in a bowl, covered with cold water overnight or use the quick soak method. (Cover beans with cold water, boil for two minutes and then soak for one hour.) Drain and rinse beans before using.

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 heat; add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, celery, carrots and mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Add the lima beans, barley, broth and reserved mushroom liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, for about 1 and 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: 22 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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