Porcini mushrooms grow in the wild, and despite many attempts to grow them under controlled conditions they remain resistant to domestication. Fortunately, they are extremely prolific and grow all over the globe. Most dried porcini available in the Northeastern United States are imported from Eastern Europe or Asia. These dried mushrooms are available in several grades, and also as powdered mushrooms. They add a tremendous amount of mushroom flavor to any dish. In this soup, they join three varieties of fresh mushrooms available in most food markets, and so the combination is slightly wild.Hulled barley is preferred to pearl barley in soups, casseroles, and stews since only the outermost, hard casing on the grain is removed. Hulled barley has a slightly darker color, nuttier flavor, and chewier texture than pearl barley. Pearl barley, on the other hand, contains just the starch bearing part of the grain. In final analysis, hulled barley will not cloud the soup, nor will not absorb as much liquid during storage while retaining a toothsome consistency.
A dark, rich stout such as Guinness adds to the meaty, nutty flavors. Stouts are brewed from dark roasted, malted barley. So this soup packs a double-dose of barley flavor.
To reconstitute the dried mushrooms
1 cup hot water
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
Ingredients for soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1½ cups diced onion
1½ cups diced carrots
2 stalks celery, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups brown stock (beef broth)
1 pint stout such as Guinness
⅔ cup hulled barley
1 Tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp dried leaf thyme
½ tsp powderd sage
1 tsp dried oregano
Add to soup at the end
1 lb fresh mixed mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Steep dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes.
Drain broth through a paper coffee filter. Rinse mushrooms in a wire strainer to remove any grit.
Chop the reconstituted mushrooms into small pieces.
Cut the carrots, celery, and onion into ¼ inch dice, and mince the garlic. Note the purple tints in the carrots. I grew these from seeds produced at High Mowing Farm–they’re called Cosmic Carrots.
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, fry onion, carrots, celery, garlic, chopped reconstituted mushrooms for 5 minutes; stir occasionally.
Add the stout, brown stock, and mushroom liquid. Add all remaining ingredients except those indicated to add at the end, and simmer for 1 hour. If you want a vegetarian soup, substitute water or vegetable stock for the brown stock. Hulled barley should still be toothsome and a bit chewy. Skim foam and oil from the surface.
Clean and slice the fresh mushrooms. I used a mixture of crimini (baby bella), shitake, and oyster mushrooms.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Quickly fry the mushrooms and stir into the finished soup. Adding the fresh mushrooms at the end of cooking will help retain their texture. Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.