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Mushroom Barley Soup III (P, TNT)
Source: Mark Bittman, New York Times
Serves: 4

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound shiitake or button mushrooms, stemmed and roughly chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup pearl barley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Soak porcini in 3 cups very hot water.

Put olive oil in a medium saucepan and turn heat to high. Add shiitakes and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Add barley, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown; sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Remove the porcini from their soaking liquid, and reserve liquid. Sort through porcini and discard any hard bits. Add porcini to pot and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add bay leaf, mushroom soaking water and 3 cups additional water (or stock, if you prefer).

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer; cook until barley is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Add soy sauce, and taste. Add salt if necessary and plenty of pepper. Serve hot.

Poster's Notes:
Carole says: I made this recipe last week and if you use good mushrooms, it is yummy....and per my calculations it's only 3 points per weight watchers serving!

Wendy Baker says:
This recipe came with a whole column of information a bit of which I will summarize for you:
Mark Bittmann is not a kosher cook, but wanted to make what he called a beefy tasting soup without beef. He found that two things were absolutely essential to get a "meat-like" quality. One is using the dried porcini. Expensive as they are, their taste is unique and necessary here. The fresh shitake were preferred, but as long as the porcinis are used and the technique is the same you can substitute regular fresh mushrooms for the shitake without a loss of character. The other important thing is to not skimp on browning the fresh mushrooms and carrots. Apparently, a quick soft sauté just won't do.

I am passing this on to you all, as we all know that we often "adjust" recipes to fit our time or whatever. I would suggest that you not do too much adjusting here and see how it comes out. I trust this chef, who does not try to "fancy" up stuff, but, as his column says, takes a minimalist approach. Notice, no onions, garlic, peppers, stuff we all think should be in a good soup. For this one, he says no.

Posted by Wendy Baker

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A