The Remix: Mushroom Barley Soup | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

The Remix: Mushroom Barley Soup

A mix of mushrooms is the key to a soup with an appealing texture.
The Remix: Mushroom Barley Soup

A variety of mushrooms makes for a much more interesting soup. Amy Kritzer/JW

4 servings

30 min

1 hr 15 min

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This is the next installment in our series The Remix, in which we seek to gently rework the more challenging dishes in the Jewish culinary canon. With a little bit of love, we’re convinced we can make any dish delicious, even ones that seem a bit bizarre to the modern palate.

Hearty soup is just what the cold weather calls for, and mushroom barley is one of my favorite classics. It’s rich and creamy, yet magically still healthy and easily made vegan. Just the kind of thing we need after a week (or month) of indulging in Hanukkah latkes.

The classic Ashkenazi soup is based on the mushrooms and barley so abundant in Eastern Europe and is often slow cooked for an hour or more. But this can lead to a mushy, colorless mess. Not exactly the comfort food we are craving.

So it’s time to remix. I add tons of different mushrooms for a mix of textures and flavors: shiitake, porcini and baby portabellas. Instead of cooking everything together into a mush, I cook the barley separately and add it at the end after I’ve thickened the soup thickened with roux. The last touch is a parsley garnish, which adds freshness and color. The result is an updated classic with tons of flavor.

Amy Kritzer is a food writer and recipe developer in Austin, Texas. She blogs at What Jew Wanna Eat.

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1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

½ cup dried barley

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, separated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or margarine or olive oil)

1 medium white onion, diced

3 medium carrots, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper

Fresh parsley for garnish

  1. Cover dried porcini mushrooms with 2 cups boiling water and let soak for 30 minutes. Then strain through cheesecloth and reserve the mushroom water. Chop mushrooms into small pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, bring barley and 1 ½ cups stock to a boil, and then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. If you love barley, you can double the amount and cook 1 cup in 3 cups of broth.
  3. Then, in a large stockpot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and carrots and sauté until onions are translucent and carrots start to soften, about 5 minutes. Then add all the mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms start to soften and brown, about 5 more minutes. Then add flour and stir for 5 minutes, until fragrant and light brown.
  4. Add remaining stock and mushroom liquid and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until thick. Add in barley and season with salt (I used some truffle salt for extra umami!) and pepper to taste. Cook 5 more minutes to heat barley. Serve hot with fresh parsley!


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