Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

No matter how hot it may be outside, I'm still in the mood for a warm earthy soup. I had bought a pound of ground beef from Trader Joe's over the weekend, thinking I would put it on the Super Supreme Pizza, but never did. My mind travels from beef to barley to soup all the time, so that's what I went for on this 95-degree Tuesday.

I wanted to try this recipe because I loved that it uses dried mushrooms. The only ones we have in the house are shiitake mushrooms, but those taste great anyway. It's funny how just a few years ago, anytime my mom was making dinner with shiitake mushrooms, I would shut the door to my room and stay in there for the rest of the night. I absolutely hated the smell. Anything the mushrooms touched, I avoided. Now I am the total opposite. I actually love the smell.

I also had white button mushrooms left over from pizza on Sunday so I threw those into the soup. It's all mushroom anyway! My version is probably not as earthy as it should be because I had no beef broth so I used chicken broth instead. But it was still good and the addition of the ground beef made this soup even meatier and packed with protein.

Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

Mushroom Beef Barley Soup
Adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes

- 3 oz dried mushrooms [I went for shiitake]
- 6 cups water, divided
- 1/2 lb lean ground beef
- 2 cups diced onion
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 8 oz white button mushrooms
- 1 quart (4 cups) beef broth [err, I had only chicken]
- 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme [1 tsp dried for me]
- 1 cup barley

1. Boil 2 cups of the water. Pour it over the dried mushrooms, cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Drain and chop the mushrooms and reserve the steeping liquid.
2. In a large pot, cook the ground beef until no longer pink on the outside. Set aside on a plate. Drain the fat from the pot, leaving a little to saute the vegetables. Add the onion and garlic and cook for several minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the flour add stir to coat the vegetables; cook one minute stirring constantly.
3. Add the beef broth, remaining 4 cups of water, steeping liquid, cooked ground beef, thyme and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, until the barley is al dente. Discard the thyme and add the chopped mushrooms, cooking briefly until the mushrooms are warm.

It always takes me a long time to eat barley. I have a strange desire to make sure that every piece needs to be chewed. Barley doesn't fall apart as easily as white rice does so even after an hour of simmering it still holds its shape. No hurry. Just as I sat down to scarf down this soup because I thought I'd be late to work, my boss called to tell me I can go into work an hour later. Sweet.

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