My mom always made a mushroom barley soup with some meat in it. When I moved out she gave some ‘recipes’ but they were pretty vague so I called my go-to friend, Mrs. Shapiro, to ask for tips on how to make this wonderful soup. I combined her advice with memories of my moms & came up with this delicious soup!
You can make this soup without the meat if you want to. Just make it with a broth rather than water so that you have some depth of flavour. You can use any type of broth you want. If I was not going to add meat, I would use a mushroom or vegetable broth
Adding meat to this soup adds quite a bit of time…the meat has to cook a long time so that it is tender. No one wants a tough piece of meat in their soup. I cooked the meat separately… my mom always boiled the meat before adding it to the soup…when the water got kind of scumy… she strained the water & washed off the meat, then added it to the soup. Mrs. Shapiro cooks the meat separately until it is soft, so longer than my mom did. I combined the two ways….
Also, Mrs Shapiro cooks the barley separately as well then adds it later. I did this but I had not made enough so I threw some raw barley into the soup. I like how it turned our because the soup became cloudy & thick which Murray & I like. If you want a clear soup, just add pre-cooked barley to the soup. So, I had one pot with barley cooking, one pot with the meat boiling & my soup pot in which I sautéed the vegetables & made the whole soup in. I have made this soup just by putting all the ingredients together & letting it cook away but this was very flavourful so I will do it like this again. Everything cooked separately at the same time, then all added together & simmered until done
This soup took several hours to make so make sure you leave yourself lots of time! But, don’t let the many steps & time scare you off! it is good & especially on a cold winter day!
Here is the recipe…because it is a ‘hit & miss’ kind of recipe you can adapt it to your personal taste
I lb short ribs with or without the bone…or stew meat would work here too. If you have more then a pound thats ok… you will just have more meat in your soup!
2 cups barley, uncooked
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, cleaned & cut up… I like to thinly slice my carrots
2 stalks of celery , sliced
12 large mushrooms, cleaned & chopped up…any size you want your mushrooms to be! *** you can add more mushrooms if you want to…
salt & pepper to taste
6 cups water for the soup plus you will need water to boil the beef & to cook the barley… the barley water is discarded
- You will boil the beef first, so if you are using bone-in short ribs, cut the ribs apart into individual pieces, if you have strips of boneless short ribs..cut them into pieces
- Put the beef & bay leaf into a saucepan, cover with water…about 1 – 2 inches over the meat. Bring this to a boil & lower the heat to a high simmer & cook the meat until tender, the water should be boiling but not a really strong boil or else you will lose all of the water….I cooked it for about 1 hour, then I added it to the soup to continue cooking..it softened up some more, but you want the meat to be tender…the cooking time will depend on the type of meat you are using. The bayleaf is added here to flavour the beef & water that will be added to the soup
- While the beef is cooking, cook the barley according to the package instructions … I had 1 1/2 cups of barley & cooked it with 2 cups of water until it was soft & the water had boiled away… I was not paying attention to it…so watch it! The other 1/2 cup of barley…making a total of 2 cups, I added directly to the soup about 1 hour after it was cooking, When the barley is finished cooking, turn off the heat & you can set it aside to add to the soup later
- Meanwhile, you are going to sauté the vegetables
- In a large soup pot… big enough to hold a 6-8 cups of water with vegetables… heat the oil
- Add the onion to the hot oil & sauté until the onion softens & it can even start to brown a bit
- Add the remaining prepared vegetables…the carrots, celery & mushrooms
- Mix well often & cook the vegetables until they are medium soft, then turn the heat off & wait for the meat & barley to be cooked
- When the meat is soft, using a fine mesh colander, strain the water from the meat directly into the pot with the vegetables. Add the bay leaf to the soup
- Rinse any scum off the meat, then add the meat to the soup pot
- Now, add the cooked barley & about 6 cups of water or broth
- Season with salt & pepper
- Bring this to a boil, then lower the heat to a mild boil… & cook until the soup is done. Do not boil this soup too ‘hard’, you will lose the water.
- The soup was too ‘thin’ for me so after about an hour I added 1/2 cup of uncooked barley to the soup. TIP..if you have to add water, always add hot water to a soup..never cold…not sure why but Mrs. Shapiro says this if very important
- Let the soup boil until the freshly added barley is cooked & the soup is flavourful. If the soup does not cook long enough it will lack flavour so be patient & just let it simmer away
- Adjust the seasonings if needed
NOTE; We put the leftovers in the fridge & the next day it was more like a barley stew, which Murray loves! If you want it to be more ‘soupy’ you can add a bit of water when you reheat the soup but..if you add too much it will water down the soup…so broth might be good to add