Inspired by the classic brothy soup from the deli counter, this hearty vegetarian soup is pure comfort and warmth. It brings together a blend of meaty mushrooms, vegetables, and tender pieces of pearled barley for a warm-me-up soup you can make in 30 minutes.
And hold the beef: you'll never miss it.
The Flavor Secret: Porcini Mushrooms
This soup is proof that good things come in small packages. It relies not just on fresh mushrooms, but also on the richness and big flavor of dried porcini mushrooms. You can find them in the produce section and sometimes near dried whole chiles and canned goods.
These mushrooms come to life after being steeped in hot water, producing the simple mushroom stock that forms the backbone of this soup.
Mushroom and Barley Soup
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup pearled barley
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Place the water and porcinis in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside to soak.
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and tender, about 8 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
Add the flour, stir so it coats the barley and vegetables, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid (avoid any grit at the bottom of the bowl), cremini mushrooms, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.