You may have seen a blurb on the news Sunday or Monday about seven inches of snow getting dumped on north Georgia. No? Well, seven inches of snow got dumped on north Georgia. I know. Maybe you live in Buffalo and get six foot deep drifts annually. Maybe you live in Chicago and it snows all the time. I am sure that our measly seven inches is barely impressive, and I am sure that many of you have been without power for more than 1 day because of bad weather. (I’ve been through that before; growing up in Savannah a hurricane could knock out power for days). But, I am going to whine anyway. It was cold. It snowed. I have more fingers on my hands than times my eyes have seen snow. I live in the South. My town doesn’t have snow plows and has to get salt for roads imported from other towns. Snow, in the South, sucks.
You may wonder what this has to do with food. Well, plenty. By the time my power came back on and I defrosted, I was hungry. I wanted a hot shower, and I wanted hot food. So, I promptly got some takeout. People, the need was urgent. After I felt revived, though, I was ready to make good use of that electricity and make something delicious and warming. Something like soup.
Soup it was. I came up with this recipe in an effort to clean a lot of stuff out my pantry: porcini mushrooms, paprika (mostly used up), chicken stock, shallots, barley. I have lots of good stuff squirreled away, but I’ve got to get it used. This urgency, as you may or may not know, is because I am moving to Virginia in a few months.
And yes, that means I am going to have to deal with evil, nasty snow much more often. I have got one hell of a snow-preparation list going, believe you me. Next time the power goes out, I’ll be firing up the party generator. And, the next time I deal with snow, there will almost certainly be a pot of this for dinner. This soup warms the body and the tastebuds. It’s tangy, filling, and completely delicious. Served with crusty bread, this makes a fantastic meal.
Feel like making a Hungarian themed meal out of this? Make some Hungarian Cucumber Salad as a side.
Tangy Mushroom Barley Soup
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 1/2 C water
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 C shallots (2-3), chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 C sliced cremini mushrooms (about 4 oz.)
- 1 C pearled barley
- a splash of white wine
- 1 T dill
- 1 T paprika
- 1 1/2 C water or stock (chicken, vegetable, or mushroom)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 T soy sauce
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
Boil a cup and a half of water and soak the dried porcini mushrooms in it. Start by sauteing the base of the soup. Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots until they are translucent, then add the garlic and continue sauteing until it takes on some light color. Add in the mushrooms and brown them – let them release water, let the water cook off, and let them get tender and brown – about 3-5 minutes. Drizzle in a little bit more olive oil and brown the barley. Stir frequently for the next three minutes until the barley is toasted, then deglaze the pan with a splash of wine. Cook the wine off.
Drain the porcini mushrooms reserving the liquid, chop them roughly, and toss them in the pot. Add in the dill, the paprika, the bay leaf, and the soy sauce. Season with some salt and some black pepper. Pour in the remaining stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until the barley is done. Add more stock or water at the end to achieve the consistency you want, and check the seasonings to see if you need more salt or pepper.
Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of fresh dill.