Mushroom Barley Soup

By • October 1, 2009 25 Comments

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Author Notes: I always loved mushroom barley soup as a child but could never find a recipe to duplicate the flavors I remembered. As I grew more proficient as a cook, I began experimenting and found the flavors I remembered in this recipe I created. I hope you enjoy it! - BernaBerna

Food52 Review: Layers of flavor, each more concentrated than the last, are the key to this mushroom soup. You begin by browning pancetta and over the course of about 20 minutes, and then you add aromatic vegetables, tomato paste, both fresh mushrooms and rehydrated porcinis, soy sauce and sherry. How can it not be great? The soup simmers for an hour to cook the barley and blend the flavors, and by the time you're done you have a soup whose brothiness belies an intense grid of flavors. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms soaked until soft in 1/2 cup hot water (reserve water after soaking)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  1. In a heavy stock pot add olive oil and saute pancetta until lightly browned.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery and shallot and saute until soft (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release some of their moisture.
  4. Remove the rehydrated porcini from the liquid (reserving liquid), chop, and then add to the vegetables in the pot along with the barley and mix to combine.
  5. Make a little space at the bottom of the pan and add the tomato paste, cooking for a minute or two to caramelize.
  6. Add the soy sauce and sherry and simmer vigorously until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Then add the stocks and the reserved liquid from the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer soup, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until barley is soft. Add chopped parsley just before serving.

More Great Recipes: Side Dishes|Soups|Vegetables|Appetizers|Entrees

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Comments (25) Questions (1)


7 months ago CWA22

At the last minute I realized that I didn't have barley, so I added...quinoa, if you believe it. While different, it was very good and totally acceptable, though lighter than barley and therefore really needed some bread on the side. I didn't have the exact mushrooms, either, so added a variety of ones that I had. Really rich flavor - great mouth-feel.


over 1 year ago Elou

Had this bookmarked and finally made it yesterday. My god, this is the mushroom barley soup I have been looking for! I love it; too many recipes for barley soup are tomato-heavy. In this, the small amount of tomato paste just enriches the other flavors without overpowering them. This soup is an umami blast in the mouth! Thank you.


over 1 year ago Suzan Zeder

Absolutely fabulous. Made it New Year's eve and served it with cheddar cheese and sage biscuits. I added balsamic vinegar to give it a top note and a shot of sherry at the table. Excellent and easy!


almost 2 years ago LeeLeeBee

We love this soup, but since we tend to like heartier stews rather than brothy soups, I usually add about 1 to 1.5 cups of barley to bulk it up, and have added chopped kale or spinach five minutes before the end of cooking. So good!


over 2 years ago LeahK

So good. Made a vegetarian version, skipped the pancetta and used veg broth instead of chicken, still tasted rich and delicious. Will make this regularly!


over 2 years ago VeeCee

In the photo of the soup, why is the soup spoon on the
left of the bowl?


almost 2 years ago Scott Stewart



almost 3 years ago dani

We had your lovely soup this evening. It is truly wonderful. Thanks for the recipe.


almost 3 years ago Muse

Another wonderful soup recipe for me to try...OMG these ingredients seem SO heavenly together!


over 3 years ago BavarianCook

Update: the soup was excellent. Had it with a slice of a freshly baked loaf of multigrain bread and a glass of Pinot Gris. Will definitely make this again!


over 3 years ago BavarianCook

This is on my stove now and it smells fantastic. I noticed at the last minute that I did not quite have the full amount of pancetta, but then remembered my small container of cold bacon grease and used a spoonful of that to sauté the veggies in. I'm sure the soup will taste as wonderfully as it smells right now! Thanks for a lovely recipe.


over 3 years ago pamelalee

I think this is the best mushroom barley soup I've ever tasted! The only change I made was to substitute some stew meat, which I had in the freezer, for the pancetta. Next time I will try it with pancetta or bacon. Thank you for submitting this!


over 3 years ago jackieem

Made this yesterday. What a great recipe! Next time, some shitakes along with the others and bit more pancetta. But even as is, I was the envy of my colleagues at work today with their frozen dinners. Thanks for this!


over 3 years ago LobsterBrieAvocadoBreath

This is just sensational. I would double it, because it went so, so fast. I used baby carrots, instead of chopping. Yuuuuummy!


over 3 years ago charlotte au chocolat

Loved this recipe! I made a twist on it with farro, and without the porcini/pancetta.

You can view it here: http://charlotteauchocolat...

Thanks for the inspiration!


almost 4 years ago Hark

This soup is amazing. In the fall in the midwest, it can be made with all seasonal, local ingredients. I love it!


over 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

What a wonderful soup-maker you are.


over 4 years ago pat_dohaney

Oh my, this looks absolutely delightful. We are experiencing -26 weather and this would be oh so perfect to come home to.


over 4 years ago RayInBoston

I have been looking for a great mushroom barley soup recipe for a long time....and after making this on a cold winter night, I have found it!


almost 5 years ago pauljoseph

good recipe


about 5 years ago cameronp

Just made this substituting dried morels for the fresh mushrooms, and vermouth for the sherry, also I had no beef broth. It's excellent, but I think the beef broth would really improve it.