Monday, January 19, 2009

Cold Weather Calls for Soup

Yesterday J and I made a very winter soup for dinner: while called "Barley Soup with Porcini Mushrooms", it's really more of a general vegetable soup, especially since there is a lot of potato involved. It was my first chance to use my Christmas mandoline, and what a sweet one it was. Not only did it do all it promised about making all that vegetable cutting significantly faster, it was really fun. The last one I had came with a pretty weak handguard (next to huge blade = kinda scary), but this one is much stronger and makes a huge difference. All in all, mandolines are awesome.

We made two major changes to the recipe:
1- The store didn't have any porcini mushrooms, dried or fresh. At all. So we went with dried oyster mushrooms. Still delicious; no complaints.

2- In order to get some protein into the soup, we added some lentils, about 3/4 as many lentils as barley. It was really good--the heavy winter vegetables mix with lentils very well, and it made the dish more of a fully rounded meal.

All in all, it was one of the healthiest dinners I've had in a while (sadface), and quite tasty. It also turns out in this nice golden color, which I would prove if I hadn't lost my camera cord. Next week I'll have a new one.

One last note: the Food and Wine site says that overall this recipe takes 10 hours. That is outrageous. I think everything--chopping, simmering, and all--came to maybe 2.5. So, I have no idea what they're talking about.

Ingredients

  1. 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (2 cups)
  2. 2 cups warm milk
  3. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  4. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  5. 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  6. 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  7. 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. 1/2 pound pearl barley (1 1/4 cups), soaked overnight and drained
  10. 3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  11. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  12. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

  1. In a bowl, cover the porcini with the warm milk and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Rub the porcini in the milk to rinse off any grit, then coarsely chop them. Reserve the milk.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the porcini and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the stock, bay leaf and barley and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer until the barley and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the reserved milk, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom. Simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, passing olive oil and Parmesan cheese at the table.

Make Ahead

    The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Add more stock when reheating if the soup is too thick.

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