What a powerhouse of healthy ingredients! First, there’s the barley. This versatile grain has a somewhat chewy consistency and a slightly nutty flavor that can complement many dishes. It’s also rich in many nutrients and packs some impressive health benefits, ranging from improved digestion and weight loss to lower cholesterol levels and a healthier heart.
And mushrooms are a low-calorie food that packs a nutritional punch. Loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’ve long been recognized as an important part of any diet. Plus, the anti-inflammatory effect of mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve the efficiency of the immune system.
Kale, one of the so-called “superfoods” is also packed with nutrition that puts it high on the list of world’s healthiest food, not to mention it is low in calories and has zero grams of fat.
All health info aside, the soup is just darn tasty too! Because our onion wasn’t very large, we also included a shallot. Instead of lining a strainer with cheesecloth, The Hubs drained the hydrating porcinis through a coffee filter, which prevents any grit seeping into the broth.
It will keep for about three days in the refrigerator, but the barley will swell and absorb liquid, so you will have to add more to the pot when you reheat. We added one cup of mushroom broth when we reheated a few days later.
Barley Soup with Mushrooms and Kale
- 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced thick
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
- 3/4 cup whole or pearl barley
- 1 1/2 qts. chicken stock, or beef stock
- A bouquet garni made with a few sprigs each thyme, parsley and a bay leaf
- 8 oz. kale, stemmed and washed
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup, and pour on two cups boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Set a strainer over a bowl, and line it with cheesecloth, or better yet, a coffee filter. Lift the mushrooms from the water and squeeze over the strainer, then rinse in several changes of water. Squeeze out the water and set aside. Strain the soaking water through the cheesecloth/coffee filter-lined strainer. Add water as necessary to make two cups. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until just about tender, about five minutes.
- Add the sliced fresh mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are beginning to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue to cook for about five minutes, until the mixture is juicy and fragrant.
- Add the reconstituted dried mushrooms, the barley, the mushroom soaking liquid, and the stock or water. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stack the kale leaves in bunches and cut crosswise into slivers. Add the kale to the simmering soup, and continue to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- The barley should be tender and the broth aromatic. The kale should be very tender. Remove the bouquet garni, taste and adjust salt, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and serve.
Recipe from The NY Times