The cool air and grey skies make me want a good bowl of soup. Mushrooms, barley and lentils make this hearty soup perfect for rainy fall days.
I love cremini mushrooms. They have a stronger flavor than standard white mushrooms. Sometimes they are also called baby portabello…or is it portabella? I have always known them as portabello but I recently bought a package that said “Baby Bella: Baby Portabella Mushrooms”. I decided to do some research online and realized there is a raging debate going on. Did you know about this? People are fired up about the subject. Some say there are two varieties; others say that people just do not know the proper term. Personally I do not care what you call them – I call them delicious.
I also love the simplicity of this soup. Most of the ingredients are from the pantry so there are no last minute trips to the grocery store to get a comforting meal on the table.
Barley is a great alternative to rice or pasta and is high in protein and fiber. It has a wonderful texture and mild nutty flavor. Lentils on the other hand have an earthier flavor that goes well with this soup. There are dozens of varieties of lentils but the most popular are green lentils. Their shapes holds up well to long cooking times.
I also adore the use of dried mushrooms in addition to fresh. Dried mushrooms have such an incredible flavor and really add a depth to broth you just cannot get with fresh mushrooms.
You can use any variety of mushrooms. Shitake, white button, oyster…the possibilities are endless. What type of mushrooms do you prefer?
Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup
12 oz.fresh baby cremini mushrooms (also called Baby Bella or Baby Portabello)
1 oz. dried mushrooms
¾ cup dried barley
½ cup whole dried green lentils
1 quart beef or vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp celery salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
Salt to taste (it will vary depending on the type of stock you purchase)
- Quarter fresh mushrooms into bite sized pieces.
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook mushrooms 8-10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Cover pot, reduce heat and allow to simmer for one hour.
*If you can’t find baby portabello mushrooms you can use regular portabello caps. Just remove the black gills and chop into bite-sized pieces.
*To make in a slow cooker, omit olive oil. Combine remaining ingredients and cook on low for 8-10 hours.