Slow Cooker

Mushroom Barley Soup

October  1, 2009
10 Ratings
  • Serves 4 to 6
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! - Berna —Berna

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ECMotherwell
  • trysteroo
  • maam
  • Pumpkiness
  • CWA22

34 Reviews

Shawn K. February 12, 2024
So good! I doubled pancetta because package came as 4oz. Couldn’t find dried mushrooms (not sure if that is seasonal- neither my good international store or Trader Joe’s had them) substituted half a packet of dashi powder mixed with 1 cup of boiling water. Finished with just a splash of sherry vinegar. Delish!
ECMotherwell October 11, 2023
Completely amazing, a family-wide favorite. I make it as a vegetarian dish, so veggie broth and no pancetta -- and it totally works. Everything else as-is.
trysteroo December 11, 2022
I added fresh rosemary and sage while simmering, and used farro instead of barley because the store was sold out. A very satisfying soup!
dleebailey April 7, 2021
Makes a delicious, hearty and “meaty” mushroom soup, perfect for a cold winter’s night. It freezes very well and seems to taste even better after having been refrigerated/frozen. We liked it so much I doubled the recipe for our second go-round and plan to take some to a family gathering.
mstv December 22, 2019
I left out the meat and used all chicken broth. Excellent soup. Would make again.
Kelly October 29, 2019
Oh my goodness this soup is delicious! Even my daughter ate it and she doesn’t care much for mushrooms. I used shiitake mushrooms as that’s what I had on-hand and only vegetable broth and the soup turned out excellent. Thank you for this recipe. I will make it over and over!!
Nyasha September 29, 2018
So much flavor. I really value the staring role of *meat as a flavor* rather than *MEAT + more MEAT* that most hearty soups offer. Made this last night & opted for the 90min simmer. Wow, did it thicken. Have been thinning with water when reheating leftovers. This would last quite some time if I could resist seconds!
maam November 9, 2015
Great soup!
I also made it without the meat. To speed it up to make for a week night, I did about 15 min. of work before heading to work in the morning. I partially cooked the barley with 2 cups of the chicken broth in the microwave for 5 minutes, chopped my veggies and put all the ingredients in the fridge. Worked very well, saved that 15 min. on prep time and simmering time was cut down to 45 min. I would definitely agree with doubling it,...never enough soup to freeze and take for lunches. Served with homemade whole wheat biscuits and a big glass of milk ;)
Pumpkiness November 1, 2015
The soup was amazing! One tip i wanted to pass along. I went to the local food coop, but they only had a few very small packages of dried morels for $17. One of their employees suggested I try the foreign food store next door and I ended up with a large bag of dried shiitakes for $5!
CWA22 January 26, 2015
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.
Elou January 25, 2014
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.
Suzan Z. January 1, 2014
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!
LeeLeeBee September 18, 2013
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!
LeahK February 4, 2013
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!
VeeCee January 29, 2013
In the photo of the soup, why is the soup spoon on the
left of the bowl?
Scott S. November 19, 2013
dani November 12, 2012
We had your lovely soup this evening. It is truly wonderful. Thanks for the recipe.
Muse September 16, 2012
Another wonderful soup recipe for me to try...OMG these ingredients seem SO heavenly together!
BavarianCook March 18, 2012
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!
BavarianCook March 18, 2012
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.
pamelalee January 23, 2012
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!