I am kicking off my list of 2015 foodie resolutions right with one of the pantry raid recipes that I promised. This one comes from last week, after we realized that the #snowmageddon was not going to be all it was cracked up to be but nonetheless could use something warm to eat, since it was still very cold outside.
This recipe is healthy and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, making it a perfect recipe for using up pantry and fridge staples. Cooking guidelines are approximate, since I found that I started the slow cooker around noon and by 8:00 pm the barley was still slightly chewy, but not inedible. It could be possible that my grains were a little stale. The next time, I might even let this cook overnight.
Always be sure to follow the instructions for your particular brand of slow cooker, since it is possible that yours could cook faster or slower and have different heat settings than mine.
By the way, it is also National Soup Month! Follow #NationalSoupMonth on Twitter for more recipes. Here are a few that I would love to try:
- Mushroom and Pappardelle Soup with Gremolata (via Vegetarian Times)
- Beef and Coconut Soup with Crispy Shallots (via Martha Stewart) — I love coconut, so I am wondering how this would taste with shitake mushrooms, shrimp, or vegetarian meat, as an alternative to the beef…
- Mexican Vegetable Stew (via Chow.com)
- Red Curry Vegetable Soup (via Vegetarian Times)
Mushroom Barley Soup
I used 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth concentrate, Better Than Bouillon brand, combined with 2 quarts of water. You may choose to do the same or use boxed or homemade stock (homemade is my preference, when I have it). To make this non-vegetarian, you could always add cubes of beef that have been browned and diced. I always like to freeze leftover soup in quart or pint containers marked with the date.
Serves 6-8 dinner-sized portions (8-12oz servings)
Oil or butter, for sauteing
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
3 celery ribs, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 cups mushrooms, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (if using frozen peas, don’t thaw them in advance; they will thaw as the soup cooks)
1 1/c cups barley
2 quarts vegetable broth
4-5 springs of thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 leaves sage
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare vegetables and add to a slow cooker with broth and seasonings. Cook on high, approximately 8 hours or until the barley is tender. Alternatively, cook on low overnight, or use the stove top.
For stove top cooking: saute onions, garlic, and celery in a large soup pot until tender. Add barley and cook a few minutes until lightly toasted. Add carrots, broth, seasonings, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for approximately an hour or until carrots are tender. Mid-way through cooking, add the mushrooms, and towards the end of cooking, add the frozen peas.
You may keep the soup warm on the stove or in the crockpot (depending on cooking method) until it is time to eat, at which time I would highly encourage serving with crusty bread, rolls, or cornbread. If making cornbread from scratch, try adding some of the same herbs that were used in the soup, finely chopped, and a little freshly ground pepper to the batter before baking.