A smoky, rich broth makes this Mushroom Barley Soup delicious, and barley and beans make it hearty, and satisfying.
When my friend and frequent blog commenter moonwatcher recommended Anna Thomas’ new book Love Soup, I knew I had to have it. The recipes sounded so unusual and the seasonings so much to my taste (ancho chilies, smoked paprika, toasted cumin) that I was sure it would appeal to me.
Unfortunately, I often have more ambition than time when it comes to reading new books, so I haven’t fully explored Love Soup yet. Instead, I opened the book to the first recipe for which I had most of the ingredients and decided to make an adaptation of it right then and there.
This recipe was originally Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cabbage, but being the kind of cook who wants to get everything–starch, vegetable, and protein–in one pot, I added cannellini beans, making it less brothy and more of a main dish. And true to my procrastinate-then-rush style of cooking, I sped up what was meant to be a slow-cooked soup by using a pinch of baking soda to brown the onions quickly and the pressure cooker to speed-cook the barley.
I also changed the proportions of some of the ingredients and totally left out two, green onions and fresh parsley, that I didn’t have and which might make this soup even more delicious, but I don’t see how. In short, I loved it. The broth was rich and flavorful with just a bare hint of spice and the mushrooms and barley lent a heartiness, something to chew on. If the rest of the recipes are as delicious, this book was a great investment. Thanks for the recommendation, moonwatcher!
I used the Instant Pot pressure setting to speed up the cooking of the barley, but I opted to cook the rest of the soup on sauté. I like the flavor that slow simmering gives it, but if you are in a big hurry, you could try returning the pot to pressure and cooking under pressure for 4 minutes before allowing a natural release for 15 minutes. But with the time it takes to get to pressure, this isn’t a huge time saver.
Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cannellini Beans and Cabbage
- 1/4 cup pearl barley consider using buckwheat or brown rice if you are gluten-free
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 medium onions diced
- 6 ounces portobello or brown mushrooms halved if large and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 12 ounces shredded cabbage
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika mild
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked spicy paprika agridulce or pimenton de la Vera
- 4 cups water
- 16 ounces cannellini beans 1 can, drained
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Place the barley in a pressure cooker or large soup pot, add the vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. If pressure cooking, lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure; cook under pressure for 18 minutes. (In an Instant Pot, just set the pressure to high and set the timer for 18 minutes.) Bring pressure down with a quick release method.
- If cooking in a regular soup pot, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.
- While the barley is cooking, cook the onion in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until it softens and begins to brown; adding a pinch of baking soda will speed up the browning. Once it’s beginning to brown, add the garlic and mushrooms and a little salt and pepper, reduce the heat, cover, and cook, stirring regularly, until mushrooms soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the thyme and sherry and cook until the alcohol cooks off.
- Once the barley is cooked, add the mushrooms to the barley along with the sliced cabbage and paprika. If there are dried bits in the skillet, use a little of the water to deglaze it, and add that and the remainder of the 4 cups of water to the pot too. Add the cannellini beans and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the cabbage is tender, adding extra water if it gets too thick.
- Stir in the lemon juice just before serving and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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annasrobbieSeptember 23, 2010 at 8:14 pm
Delicious! I couldn’t find any smoked paprika – but I can’t believe it could have made this soup any better. The leftovers keep getting better and better too.
KatieMay 11, 2011 at 9:01 am
Another great recipe! This one was so easy (I ended up just cooking it in one pot–it worked out well except for slightly overdone beans) and the smoked paprika was creative and blended well. I didn’t have thyme on hand so I just used a little Herbs de Province instead. I made it a day in advance to fit in my schedule and ended up eating it for lunch instead!
VikkiFebruary 18, 2012 at 9:35 am
Hi Susan, Greetings from the UK! Love your site and often cook things I see on here. Could you do this recipe in a crockpot (or slow cooker, as we call it over here)?
Susan VoisinFebruary 18, 2012 at 10:26 am
Vikki, I think you could just put it all in the slow cooker and cook it all day on low, but I haven’t tried it that way. Please let me know what happens if you do!
BrookFebruary 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm
i’m making this now and am pleased to report it is delicious!! i am gonna use great northerns because they’re what i have on hand and i am gonna add some kale to the finished product, because i can’t ever get enough of it. it’s wonderful–thank you for sharing, susan!
PatbFebruary 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm
How many cups of cabbage are in 12 ounces? And 6 ounces of of mushrooms? No scale here and just have a small head of cabbage plus I never weighed the mushrooms which I bought loose. I need to know how many cups of each. I am about to make your soup which looks wonderful!
LaurenFebruary 12, 2013 at 4:38 am
About how much is a serving? One cup? Two? Thanks :]
Susan VoisinFebruary 12, 2013 at 8:14 am
I serving is one bowl or 1/6 of the recipe, probably somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 cups.
KristinOctober 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm
Could this be done in the slow cooker?
ChristineFebruary 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm
I just made this…DELICIOUS…SERIOUSLY..
SandyOctober 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm
Just made this for the first time and just had to share with everyone. We added a splash of white vinegar and some more freshly ground black pepper to our bowls and we felt like we were eating Chinese Hot & Sour Soup! It was delicious! I followed the recipe without any other changes.
Sharon McVeighNovember 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm
This soup looks similar to the one I make except I’ve never tried it in my Pressure
Cooker. I’ll have to give it a go. When I use Barley now, I soak it in water for 15-30 minutes before adding to my soup etc. I throw it in with the rest of the ingredients and it’s ready when they are. It makes such a difference to the cooking time. I just have to remember to get them soaking when I decide I’m going to use them. Thanks for all of your hard work on this site and I’m very glad to hear you are doing so much better. I feel as you do, NOTHING could ever entice me to eat Animals or their products again. Good for you. Your diet will sustain you. God Bless, I will add you to my prayers. 🙂
CheryDecember 6, 2017 at 9:36 am
I’m going to make this with Job’s Tears, which is a great GF substitute for barley! Giving it 5 stars cuz I know it’s gonna turn out amazing.
BarbaraFebruary 4, 2021 at 1:03 pm
This sounds delicious. Any suggestions if cannot use dry sherry?
Susan VoisinFebruary 4, 2021 at 5:03 pm
Just use a splash of water. It should be fine without the sherry.
JMarch 14, 2022 at 7:47 pm
In a general sense, a good recipe. But, 1/4 C. barley to 8 C,liquid? Nice flavors, though, so thank you.
MarieOctober 23, 2022 at 7:24 pm
I made this recipe, carefully following the recommended amounts of all ingredients, cooking it on the stove in a Dutch oven, and the events were so disappointing that my husband and I both found the soup inedible. We put it in the fridge, thinking we might try to “doctor” it, perhaps with the addition of some vegan sour cream or vegan yogurt to calm the heat of the smoked paprika, and threw it away a week later. The amounts seemed to be all off. 1/4 cup of barley to 8 cups of liquid? We could barley find the barley in the end, and there was far too much liquid overall. And 2 medium onions? The onions far outweighed the mushrooms, and their name is not in the name of the soup! Was this my problem as a cook, or did no one edit this recipe before it was published?