The first time I ever made this soup was in a tiny Manhattan apartment for an improvised Super Bowl party - the kind where you mute the game and avidly watch the commercials.
It was a frigid February, and I figured a hearty bowl of soup would be perfect for my small gathering.
But as I hunted around my closet-sized kitchen, I realized I had no saucepan even close to big enough for this recipe. I was disheartened, until I spied my crockpot in a closet. Suddenly, all was well again with the world.
I've made this soup many times since then, which is saying something for me since I prefer to experiment and am frequently mocked for never making the same thing twice.
I generally make it in a regular pot now, since the mushrooms and onions are sautéed first before the other ingredients are added, but that can be done in a frying pan and then transferred to a crockpot. You can set it on low, spend an afternoon out, and arrive home to a steaming bowl of soup - perfect as an appetizer or a light supper.
Mushroom Barley Soup:
Serves 3 to 4 people.
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced or quartered
2 tablespoons of flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup barley
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and mushrooms and sautée, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes.
With the flame on low, stir in the flour, then add the broth in a steady stream, mixing continuously.
Add in the barley, and cover the soup, letting it simmer on low for 30 to 40 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.