Lentil & Barley Soup with Mushrooms

Lentil & Barley Soup from Big Girls Small Kitchen

Phew. I found the soup. I didn’t want to lose this one. I think it shows so well how you can make a good dish out of very little, which became my hobby, more or less, in the hours before dinner during the last weeks at our old apartment.

These days, I store all my beans and grains in glass jars, the leftovers from five years of canning fruits and vegetables with mom and from a few wedding favors. The glass jar storage system looks a little hippie dippy, or maybe just trendy, but it works really well, especially for open shelving. Lentils, especially, are pretty, which might explain why I permit myself to own six kinds.

Only one type of lentil figures in this soup, but there are plenty of other dry goods here to dose out from your glass jars! Dried mushrooms add extraordinary flavor, and pearl barley thickens the soup and turns the broth hearty. About the broth: I had Fleisher’s beef broth in the freezer, from a long-ago ambition to make French onion soup. In general, I don’t really like canned broth or bouillon, but you could easily make this with water–the other ingredients contribute so much flavor. (That means it’s easily vegetarian, too.)

So whether you make this after a good grocery shop where you purchase all the ingredients or after a serious scrounge in the pantry, I hope it tastes like resourcefulness, fall, and good nutrition right  when you take your first bite.


Lentil & Barley Soup with Mushrooms
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 ounce dried mushrooms–I used shiitakes but any kind works
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into half moons
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 quart good-quality beef broth
1/2 cup black or green lentils
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Parsley, for garnish

Place the mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the mushrooms. Set aside and let soak 30 minutes, while you start the soup.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Film the bottom with oil and add the onion, leek, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are translucent. Add the garlic and barley, and cook to toast, 2 to 3 minutes. Season well with salt. Add the beef broth and 1 cup water. Bring the soup a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes. Add the lentils. At this point, the mushrooms should have soaked for 30 minutes, so drain off the water into the bowl and set the mushrooms aside. Return the soup to a boil, then continue to simmer another 25 minutes, until the soup is thickened. Chop up the mushrooms and add those to the soup. Cook 5 more minutes, then taste to make sure the barley and lentils are cooked: you want them to be tender and not at all chalky. If they’re ready, salt the soup to taste and stir in the vinegar. If not, cook until they are. When done, let soup rest for a few minutes to combine the flavors, then serve, garnished with parsley.

You can definitely make this soup ahead of time. Store in the fridge and add a bit more water, if necessary, to thin the soup when you reheat it on the stove.

Posted in: Cooking For Two
  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I love barley soup and this version sounds lovely. YUM!

  • Mary

    Could you use fresh mushrooms for this and still get the same result? Would you just need to sautee them before adding in?

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ BGSK

      Mary–you definitely could! If you want the mushrooms to retain their flavor, I’d sauté separately and add later. If you add them early, they’ll give up much of their flavor to the soup–it’ll be delicious either way!

  • http://www.athoughtforfood.net/ Brian Samuels

    Definitely looks like the best of fall in a bowl! I’m a big mushroom barley fan… and this one would hit the spot.

  • http://wildheartsandgreentea.blogspot.com Wild Hearts + Green Tea

    Looks delicious, perfect for an autumn day right about now!

    And I think the glass jars look great, I love seeing ingredients displayed and finding what you’re looking for easier.

  • KC

    Do you add any of the mushroomy water that you’ve used to rehydrate the mushrooms in this recipe? If not, do you recommend saving it for use in another recipe?

Buy Now - In The Small Kitchen