The first of this week's recipes from Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking is for Mushroom Barley Soup. I couldn't resist highlighting this one, because a good mushroom barley soup is one of my favorites. I've never made my own, prefering to get a decent one at a handful of delis here in New York, but Arthur Schwartz doesn't make this seem so difficult. The most time-consuming part might be making the chicken soup that serves as a base, but even that's not too crazy—and you can sub in four quarts vegetable broth for the chicken soup and water listed below.
- 3 tablespoons peanut, corn, or canola oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 2 outer ribs celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 1/4 cups barley (1/2 pound)
- 1 1/2 cup dried baby lima beans
- 1 1/2 cup split peas (green, yellow, or mixed)
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms, coarsely crumbled
- 12 cups (or more) chicken soup
- 4 cups (or more) water 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a 5-quart or larger pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat; sauté the onions until tender and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Grate the carrot into the pot, using the coarse side of a box grater and holding the carrot perpendicular to the grater so the pieces are short. Add the celery. Sauté vegetables 3 to 4 minutes more.
- Add the barley, lima beans, split peas, dried mushrooms, broth, and water.
- Bring to a boil, then partially cover the pot; reduce heat to low so the soup simmers gently. Cook at a slow, steady simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until the lima beans and barley are tender and the split peas have dissolved. After about 45 minutes, add the salt and pepper.
- At the end of cooking, add a little more water or chicken soup, as necessary, to bring the soup to a thickness you like. Then taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Serve very hot.
Notes: The soup can be kept refrigerated, tightly covered, for several days or frozen for several months. Reheat gently, stirring frequently, thinning it out with water and adding more salt and pepper as needed.