I Am So Into Soup,
I can’t think of nothin’ else…
I know I’m not supposed to sip and talk, but I had a soup last night that was so incredible, I can’t get it off my mind. I can still smell the onions on my hands.
With the weather outside chilling me to the bone, and my fireplace working overtime, I keep thinkin’ how it’s gonna be, when that soup get’s into me. How about you? Hungry?
I was playing around in the kitchen last night; I had lots of leftovers from the impromptu Thanksgiving feast I threw on Sunday. I know it wasn’t Thanksgiving, but my sister Mara came for a visit and brought my adorable nephew, Miles. If that’s not a reason to give thanks, I don’t know what is. So I invited our favorite cousin Lloyd and his blushing beauty Kelly. Threw in an extra sibling and a father-in-law for good measure, and there you have it, enough people to consume a turkey feast.
I had lots of ‘bits and pieces’ left over. Not enough of any one thing to make an entire meal out of, and I now had to make dinner. That’s when my mind went to soup. (And to one of my old favorite songs)
I had mushrooms, celery, carrots and onions. There was plenty of turkey broth left after making gravy, and I had some fresh herbs from the marinade. If I made soup, I could clear out all the excess in my fridge with one big pot. I am so into soup…
I wanted to add a little bulk, and although it sounded like a culinary cliché, I made barley (for the first time I might add – I was so proud of myself). And for the big finish, bread bowls to serve it in. Nothing says gluttony like containers you can eat after consuming the contents.
Everything I used was chopped about the same size; however, before I put the barley into the finished soup, I ran a ‘boat motor’ through, to chop it up a little. Braun makes a good hand held blender – we call it a boat motor in this house. It looks like a long firm shaft with a rotating blade in the tip. They’re pretty safe and reasonably easy to clean. Just remember to unplug it before you clean it. Mine is old and it still works great, but they make new ones now that the head comes off for easier cleaning. If you’re buying one for the first time – look for that feature.
Using a hand held blender is beneficial because you don’t have to re-locate the soup. You just plug it into the wall and stick it in the pot. Make sure the head goes all the way down deep into the pot or else the hot liquid will squirt all over you. And that’s never good.
The bread bowls were amazing, and no, I didn’t make them from scratch. I got them at Grandma’s on 202 in Yorktown (914) 739-7770. They make their fresh loaves of bread everyday and we were lucky enough to get there just as they were coming out of the oven (I owe a big thanks to the guy who hooked us up – next time, I’ll call in advance when I want 9). I would say they were each a little bigger than a softball. As soon as I got them home, I pre-heated the oven to 420°, sliced off the tops of the loaves and scooped them out. They toasted in the oven for about 8 minutes. The edges should be crispy and the rim of the bowl a little golden brown. If the bread bowl isn’t crispy, it won’t hold the liquid.
This soup is very chunky, so it’s a good candidate for a bread bowl. So are chowders, potato based soups and cream soups. Even though they hold soup well, I still think it’s a safe idea to put them inside of a real bowl. Nothing will piss your guests off more than hot soup leaking into their laps.
The barley was a new one for me; I have never actually made it before. I always used ‘barley shaped’ pasta. I’m not a big grains person, but I had a bag in my pantry that I was partially thankful for. I say partially because the bag had no directions on it. Thank goodness for the Joy of Cooking. Basic pearl barley is ½ cup barley to 2 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer on low for 45 minutes until it absorbs all the water. When making it for this recipe, I shortened the cooking time by 5 minutes.
Mushrooms are a bit of an issue. These days, they come in so many different forms. For this recipe, I use 3 packages of the “Steak Cut” mushrooms, they’re really thick. I prefer them because they’re easier to cook and they’re already cut up for me. But you can use any type of mushroom you like. This recipe will work with Button, Crimini, Portobello and even pre-sliced pints. And remember something, mushrooms shrink by ½, so always buy more than you think you need.
Mushrooms store best in their original container and should be kept in a dry section of your fridge. When cooking mushrooms, they will initially suck up all the liquid in the pan but after softening up a little, they’ll release a floodgate of juices, so don’t over-do on the oil, just be patient. If you are starting with large mushrooms, such as “Steak Cut” or Portobello, cook them whole first and then chop them up later. Trust me, it’s faster that way.
Broth, stock, soup, water, etc…… There are many choices, I just happened to have turkey stock in my fridge at the time, but if I hadn’t, I would have just broken out a few cans of College Inn Chicken Broth, it’s my favorite. If you’re a vegetarian – how very nice for you – water or veggie stock would work just as well.
I had lots of fresh herbs left from the marinade, so I tried to make use of them. There is a particular marriage between thyme and mushrooms, I don’t know what it is but a little bit of thyme really brings out a nice side of the mushrooms. If you don’t have fresh, use a pinch of dried, same for the parsley. The chives are a great way to bring a fresh green flavor to any dish. If you don’t have chives, you can sub with scallions.
Atlanta Rhythm Section’s Mushroom Barley Soup
Start with a LARGE stock pot
3 Tbs. Magic Oil (sub with pure olive, soybean or veggie)
1 Tbs. Butter
1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
½ Tsp. Sticks & Buds* (optional)
Approx. 4-6 Cups Mushrooms – chopped
1 Small Onion – chopped
1 Rib Celery – chopped
1 Small Shallot – chopped (optional)
1 Carrot – peeled and chopped
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 Bunch Chives – chopped
2 Sprigs Fresh Parsley - chopped
½ Cup Barley (pre-cooked)
1 Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
10 Cups Turkey Stock (approx. 5 cans)
Cook the barley – set aside
In a large stock pot, melt butter and oil over med-hi heat until the butter stops foaming
Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are golden brown – about 10 minutes. Remove mushrooms, leaving remaining oil/butter in the pan.
Add onions, shallots, carrots and celery to the pan and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. You want the veggies to get a little soft, but not brown.
Turn the heat up to high and add ½ the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it roll for about 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the broth and reduce the heat to medium.
Add the mushrooms, herbs, salt and that pinch of Cayenne. Let the soup cook at a gentle bubble for 10 minutes, then boat motor it! Just give it a few quick squeezes to chop everything up small. Remember, go deep and be careful.
Add the cooked barley. Cook 5 minutes more.
Spoon the soup into bread bowls and serve immediately. Eat the bowl when you’re finished.
The soup by itself will keep in an airtight container up to 5 days in the fridge and will freeze beautifully. Do not attempt to store soup in the bread bowls (sorry, just gotta say it).
Trust me, after this recipe, you too will be so into soup.
*FREE samples of our Sticks & Buds can be obtained by emailing us at Cook@Iveysinmykitchen.com