Mushroom Barley Soup

My grandma is a great cook, but a self-professed terrible baker. Which makes sense, because I find that the more I cook, the worse baker I am.  I catch myself thinking, “ehh, let’s not dirty the measuring spoons if we don’t have to.” Besides Gram’s signature sauerbraten and potato pancakes dish, she makes the most amazing soups. No soups are ever alike, and that’s what I love about them. Don’t you dare throw away a ham hock or turkey bones in front of her because there is good soup stock to be made!

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As I’m enduring this cold Zurich winter, I’ve often been craving soup. I’m usually home for lunch, so I love how I can make a big pot and eat it most of the week (and it even gets better as the week goes on!). Since Gram is not here to give me a jarful of split pea soup when she visits, I have to figure out how to make my own. I found an online class to give me the basics on the art of soup making and off I went.

My main take-away from the class was that soup making is all about the broth. If you start with a good broth, you can take your soup anywhere. The chef/instructor made broth-making look like a cinch, so I was ready to make my own. I was immediately drawn to the roasted mushroom broth, but after I collect some Parmesan rinds, I’ll be making the Parmesan broth. I have to admit, I didn’t steer far away from his mushroom barley recipe at all, but I’m taking baby steps. Soon enough I will be making fresh soups with no recipe at all, just from the fixings in my fridge and pantry!

Let’s start with the broth. 

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Coarsley chop mushrooms and onions. Toss in some garlic and olive oil while you are at it. 

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Roast until they are a beautiful golden brown. 

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While you are simmering your broth, start chopping your veggies for the soup. And this might be a good time to cook your grain as well. 

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Sauté them in a pan. 

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And see those pieces that stick to the bottom of the pan? Add a little bit of broth, scrape them off, and add to the soup. They are flavor bombs!

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Now that your broth has simmered, you need to drain out the veggies. Remember to press down the mushrooms with a spatula to get out the rest of the juice. 

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Well that’s a beautiful broth if I do say so myself. 

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Add your veggies and barley to the stock along with some salt and pepper to taste. And there you have your delicious, truly homemade soup!

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Mushroom Barley Soup
Serves 4
Write a review
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 40 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 40 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
  1. Mushroom Broth
  2. 2 lbs cremini or white mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  3. 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  4. 4 cloves garlic
  5. 6 tablespoons olive oil
  6. ½ t salt
  7. pepper to taste
  8. 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  9. 3 sprigs of fresh parsley
  10. 6 cups water
  11. Mushroom Barley Soup
  12. 3 cups Mushroom Broth
  13. 4-6 ounces shitake mushrooms
  14. ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  15. 1 carrot, finely chopped
  16. 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  17. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  18. ½ cup cooked barley (or rice, quinoa, or another grain you like)
  19. salt and pepper to taste
For the broth
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, 205 degrees C. In a bowl, mix the mushrooms, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  2. Transfer your roasted veggies into a large pot along with water, parsley, and thyme. Bring the pot to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until your mushrooms have lost all their taste.
  3. Put your sieve on top of a bigger bowl, and drain the broth from the mixture. Press the mushrooms with a spatula to release all of the liquid. This should yield about 3 cups which you will use in the next step.
For the soup
  1. Sauté your mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, and olive oil in a medium pan for about 5 minutes on medium heat, or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the sautéed veggies, barley, salt, and pepper to your mushroom broth and simmer until it’s warm enough to eat. Top with fresh parsley, parmesan, or whatever you feel like.
  1. Double the recipe for a big pot of soup!
Adapted from Building Flavorful Soups, Peter Berley"> Peter Berley
Adapted from Peter Berley
Caitlin Ball
**Disclosure** This post includes affiliate links and I was given a free course in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. 

5 Responses

  1. I have to try this too since the last barley mushroom thing I made was a disaster. I need grandma’s signature recipies. And how come we’ve never gotten a jar of split pea??!

  2. I think I’m in the same camp as your grandma, I can cook but I can’t quite bake. It’s too tricky being that precise, I’m always tempted to add a little of this, throw in a pinch of that. And now I have cookies that are WAY too thin. Fail. That mushroom broth looks amazing! I want to make this soup immediately.

    1. yes, they are really so different! I have to say i’m liking the flexibility of cooking though, especially in a place I can’t find all the ingredients I’m used to!

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