Every year we (if I’m just projecting, please humor me?) imagine that we will have a better grip on the holiday months, and every year It Just Doesn’t Happen. You can almost hear the sound of the universe snickering at you as you try to reign in the demands of gift shopping, planning the Big Holiday Meals, and getting your child’s three words to describe Ms. Mingey in on time to make it into the to the end of year “word cloud.” For a potluck holiday party at the school, I once almost wrote “best intentions” in the sign up slot, as to what I would bring, but I wasn’t sure the class mom would find it funny.
This is truly a meal of a soup, perfect for a cold weekday night or a break from holiday overindulgence.Tweet This
A Satisfying Mushroom Barley Soup
But it turns out that even during these busiest months, those people in your house still want dinner! And not only that, given the craziness of everyone’s schedules, this dinner might not mean all of you at the table at one time. These are the nights that call for a big pot of something sturdy that can stay on the stove over low heat, and be ladled out as people get home and get hungry. This soup is a great solution to those nights when a family dinner may be taking place in stages, and it’s rich (but quite healthy!) and comforting to boot.
What Kind of Mushrooms to Use for Barley Soup
So, this recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms, but I am certainly not going to police your mushroom choice. It’s just the way I’ve been making it. Yes, shiitakes are a bit pricey. Use whatever mushrooms feel right to you, or a combo.
All fresh shiitake mushrooms make for a richer mushroom soup, all buttons for a lighter one—there will still be good depth of flavor from the dried shiitake mushrooms (oh and by the way you can use other types of dried mushrooms, too. No mushroom rules).
Use chicken thighs for this—they will stay amazing moist and tender, no matter how long you cook this.
More Soup Recipes to Try:
- Very Mushroomy Mushroom Barley Soup
- Creamy Rutabaga, Carrot and Parsnip Soup
- Creamy Roasted Beet Soup
- Cream of Carrot Soup
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Lemony Chicken, Barley and Shiitake Mushroom Soup
- 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms or other mushroom
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 leeks white and light green parts only, washed and coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed and cut into ¼-inch pieces
- ½ cup pearl barley
- 6 to 8 cups less-sodium chicken broth
- Zest of two lemons divided
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- Whole fresh oregano leaves for garnish, optional
- Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl, bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then pour it over the dried mushrooms and let them soak for 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid, give them a squeeze to remove excess liquid, then chop them. Pour the soaking liquid through a fine mesh strainer and reserve. Meanwhile, trim the fresh mushrooms, removing the stems of the shiitakes completely, wipe them with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt, and coarsely chop them.
- While the mushrooms are finish soaking, in large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the leeks, carrots, and chopped fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 8 minutes until the vegetables are starting to become tender, and any liquid the mushrooms have released evaporates. Let the mushrooms saute until they start to brown slightly. Add the chicken and barley, and sauté until the chicken is starting to take on some color, and everything is well combined with the oil and vegetables.
- Add 6 cups of the broth, the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and the chopped soaked dried mushrooms, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover, and simmer the soup for 30 minutes. Then add oregano and half of the lemon zest, and continue to simmer for about another 30 minutes, until the barley is cooked and tender. Add up to 2 more cups of broth as needed/desired as the soup finishes cooking if it seems too thick. Serve hot, with a sprinkle of lemon zest and some oregano leaves over each serving if desired.
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