Mushroom Barley Soup

Servings: About 6


1/3 cup quick-cooking barley
7 cups water
1/4 oz dried porcini (1/4 cup)
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/3-inch dice
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 lb fresh shiitakes, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 3/4 cups low-sodium fat-free beef broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Simmer barley in 3 1/2 cups water in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot, uncovered, until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain in a colander.

While barley is cooking, soak porcini in 1/2 cup water in a small bowl until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain in a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel set over a bowl, reserving liquid. Rinse porcini to remove any grit, then coarsely chop. Wash sliced leek in a bowl of water, then lift from water and drain in sieve.

Heat oil in cleaned pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion and celery, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add carrots, shiitakes, leek, and porcini and sauté, stirring frequently, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms are golden, 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, Sherry, beef broth, mushroom soaking liquid, barley, salt, pepper, and remaining 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables and barley are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cooks’ note: •Soup can be made 3 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, then chill, covered. Reheat soup and thin with water as necessary.


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