Barley Soup with Porcini Mushrooms
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 10 HRS
- SERVINGS: 6
- 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (2 cups)
- 2 cups warm milk
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 pound pearl barley (1 1/4 cups), soaked overnight and drained
- 3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- In a bowl, cover the porcini with the warm milk and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Rub the porcini in the milk to rinse off any grit, then coarsely chop them. Reserve the milk.
- In a large saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the porcini and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the stock, bay leaf and barley and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer until the barley and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the reserved milk, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom. Simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, passing olive oil and Parmesan cheese at the table.
A red Legrein from Italy with bright fruit will echo this soup's earthy flavors and robust texture.