I find this soup to be the ultimate weeknight comfort food, in that it’s satisfying without making me too lethargic to get off the sofa after eating it. The woody mushrooms and rustic barely is a classic combination, made all the more smoky and flavorful by adding bacon, thyme, cumin, and paprika. I use cremini mushrooms to maximize the earthiness of this soup, and white beans to give it a rich body. —PhoebeLapine
In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Saute the shallot until translucent, then add the bacon and cook until browned. Add the garlic, red pepper, cumin, thyme, and paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Cover the onion bacon mixture with the stock and bring to a boil. Add the barley and bay leaf, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add the mushroom and carrots, and continue to simmer covered for another 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the white beans and simmer for 5-10 minutes more.
When the barley is tender, remove the bay leaf and taste for seasoning. Serve hot, or freeze extra portions for a lazy weekday evening in front of the sofa.
Phoebe is a writer, gluten-free chef, culinary instructor, award-winning blogger, and author of The Wellness Project. You can find her healthy comfort food and gluten-free finds on www.FeedMePhoebe.com