Cooking for Wellness

Mushroom Barley Soup

Mar. 13, 2018

Several varieties of mushrooms are combined to provide a “meaty” texture and savory flavor to this rustic, vegetarian soup. Porcinis are a type of wild mushroom from Italy. They have an earthy, nutty flavor.  Originally from Asia, shiitake mushrooms are commonly used in stir-fries. Their tough stems should be removed before cooking. Oyster mushrooms have a lighter flavor and texture and pair well with fish and seafood. Criminis, known as “baby bellas”, add a meaty texture.

Mushrooms are low in calories and a source of minerals. Fresh mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week. Prior to cooking, wipe with a damp cloth and rinse them- do not soak in water. All mushrooms should be cooked prior to eating.

Barley has a slight nutty flavor and provides soluble fiber. Hulled barley takes about 45 minutes to cook, so it works well in soups that are slow-simmered to develop the flavors. 

mushroom barley soupServes:

  • 8


  • ½ oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • ½ oz dried shiitake mushrooms (or about ¾ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ¾ lb mushrooms, sliced (such as crimini or oyster)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (preferably low sodium)
  • ½ cup pearl barley, uncooked
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then add the dried mushrooms. Turn off the heat, cover and let soak for about 20 minutes. Strain the mushrooms through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl to remove the sediment. Remove and discard the stems. Finely chop the mushroom caps and set aside.
  2. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions. Stir and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, carrots, celery and 1/4 tsp salt. Stir and cook until the vegetables are tender, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf; stir to combine.
  3. Add ½ cup of broth to deglaze the pot. Stir until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the soaked dried mushrooms, remaining vegetable broth, barley, 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes; add the kale. Simmer for 15 minutes longer, or until the barley is tender. To serve, garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.


Fast Food, Good Food by Andrew Weil, MD