I love winter. Each morning, I check the weather reports to see if someone will promise me snow in the next week or two. I have a ghost of a promise on Wednesday morning, but subsequent 50+ days over the following forecast leaves me with little hope.
So, instead of being covered in powder, it’s a different sort of beautiful out there. Desolate, the faded greens and dying browns of late autumn. Grey skies. Long bare branches reaching. Not quite fall, not quite winter. All red in your cheeks and nose.
From November through April, cooking is a pantry game. Instead of relying on the outpouring of fresh produce from the farmers’ markets, I rely more heavily on grains and staples, like farro, millet, and barley. This soup is exactly that winter soup we crave, the steam curls up and through your fingers. The mushrooms are firm and rich, the barley filling, settling like a hot stone in your core to keep you warm.
mushroom & barley soup
1 1/2 cups pearled barley, prepared to directions.
1 lb. mushrooms of various kinds, cut into 1/4 chunks and small slices.
1 medium onion, finely diced.
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 tbsp. thyme
1/2 tbsp. rosemary
1 bay leaf
Salt & cracked black pepper.
Parmesan cheese rind.
In a large stockpot heat half of the olive oil over high to medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring regularly, about 8-9 minutes until mushrooms have browned and released most of their liquid. Pour mushrooms and liquid into a large bowl and set aside.
Add remaining oil to pot and return to medium heat. Add diced onions and cook slowly, until onions have browned and begun to caramelize. Add thyme, rosemary, parmesan rind, and bay leaf and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add barley, vegetable stock, and wine and bring to a simmer. Lower heat.
Return mushrooms and liquid to stockpot. Continue to cook for an additional 8-10 minutes over low heat, until mushrooms have softened and flavors blended.
This will make about 6-8 servings.