You have to forgive me for giving you a false start of the soup season earlier this fall, in 85 degree weather. I hope you’ll be understanding because soup is my favorite thing. But now I no longer have any formal restrictions. We are officially in the end of fall folks, even here in the South. The weather outside is not yet frightful, but definitely headed in that direction. 32 degrees and very windy. My kid just left the house packed in three layers of clothing and a winter hat. So it’s official — soup season is here and in full boil.
The soup I am posting today is very simple, yet hearty and full flavored, perfect for cold weather. If you chance upon good flavor fresh wild mushrooms as I did, you are in luck, but any non-mellow mushrooms, such as portobello (crimini) will do, as long as they are fresh.
I was shopping last week for the usual kitchen necessities at a very big box store and found 1/2 lbs of fresh and very good looking chanterelles there — a highly irregular occurrence. This had to be celebrated. My initial idea was to make some spectacularly elegant mushroom dish, such as cocotte, but then we got blasted with Arctic chill and freezing gales and, naturally, a batch of soup was in order. And what can be heartier than a steaming bowl of mushroom barley?
For this batch I used very tasty carrots from my garden, some of which were white. So if you see something in the picture that looks like a parsnip, do not believe your eyes, it’s just a white carrot. It does add nicely to the color, but flavor wise it’s the same as any other carrot.
Barley Mushroom Soup With Chanterelles
- 2 tbsp cooking fat (I used tallow)
- 3 medium leeks, dark green parts removed
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- a few twigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 lbs fresh wild mushrooms (not those pale buttons, they have no flavor), sliced
- 4-6 cups of stock (I used home made beef stock)
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 5 tbsp barley
- salt, pepper to taste
- 15-20 peppercorns, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- fresh herbs, if desire (I added cilantro)
- First cut off the dark green portions of leeks, rinse them and store for later to be used in soups, stocks, etc. They freeze wonderfully well.
- What remains of your leeks, cut that in half lengthwise, rinse thoroughly between the layers, and slice quite thinly cross-wise.
- Melt the cooking fat in a soup pot over medium heat.
- Add leeks and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t brown!
- Add diced carrots and celery, hopefully you chopped them uniformly, so that they both look and taste pretty. Add twigs of thyme at this time as well. Cook with onions for another 5-7 minutes, stirring once in a while.
- Once all vegetables are soft and golden and smell amazing, it’s time to add wine. Scrape the bottom of the pot with your spatula, loosening any of the cooked-on bits.
- Add mushrooms at this time, stir once and let wine evaporate to about half of what it was in the beginning. Mushrooms should wilt and release their liquid somewhat.
- Add stock, bay leaf, potatoes, crushed peppercorns, barley, salt and pepper.
- Bring everything to a nice boil, reduce heat and cook gently, a bit faster than simmer, until barley is cooked through. It can be very slightly chewy still, if you prefer it this way.
- Add fresh herbs, stir and serve immediately.