Friday, November 28, 2008
Mushroom and Barley Soup
This is one of the best soups I have ever made, which is sayin' summat, since I make a lot of soup. It started out as a veganized conflation of two recipes from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook (Hungarian Mushroom and Mushroom Barley soups, respectively), but evolved into something else: something, if I say so myself, immeasurably better than then sum of its influences. Back in the day, I made quite a bit of use of the first two Moosewood books, and have always liked the Eastern European quality of many of those recipes; one of these days I'm definitely going to veganize the "Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese, Russian Style" that was such a staple of my early repertoire. Of course, nowadays I sub olive oil for the often copious quantities of butter, and forget the sour cream entirely (the Tofutti stuff is okay, but really, who needs it?), but the flavor combinations remain compelling. So maybe it's the dill, maybe it's the paprika, maybe it's the cheap red wine, but there's something so comforting and warm about this soup, especially on a day when boiling water for tea steams up the kitchen windows. We are lucky enough to have a fireplace in our drafty, uninsulated 118-year-old house, so we ate it in front a roaring blaze; accompanied by a loaf of crusty bread and the rest of that wine, it made a really cozy dinner on a wintry night. Now, if it would just hurry up and snow, already - if it's going to be cold, it might as well be pretty!
Mushroom and Barley Soup
~ 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
~ 1 tbsp. Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 2 cups chopped yellow onions
~ 3/4 cup chopped celery
~ 3/4 cup diced carrots
~ 1 lb. sliced mushrooms (about 6 cups)
~ 3/4 cup pearled barley
~ 1 tbsp. each: dill, sweet paprika
~ 1 tsp. each: kosher salt, thyme
~ Lots of fresh black pepper
~ 3/4 cup dry red wine (cheap is fine; in fact, it's perfect)
~ 7 cups vegetable broth
~ In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt the margarine and oil together over medium heat. Add the onions and saute about 3 minutes.
~ Add the garlic, celery and carrots and cook another 5 minutes.
~ Stir in the seasonings and the barley; saute another minute or two until everything is coated.
~ Pour in the red wine to deglaze the pan, then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir to combine and cook another 10 minutes, adding splashes of broth or water as necessary to prevent sticking.
~ Add the vegetable broth, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about an hour, until the barley is tender and the soup has thickened.
~ Serve with crusty bread and maybe a nice green salad.