Two-Mushroom Barley Soup

It is too cold out there for us these days. We spent the weekend hibernating with the furnace turned up and our slippers on. The snow is piled up in big huge mountains on either side of the sidewalks, the car spinning its wheels on the icy roads and all of our windows are covered in icy cold frost.
I know I should be used to cold Canadian winters by now but this year seems to be worse than usual, this winter the weather just seems to be harsher than last year. Is it just me that feels this way or are you feeling the chill as well?

I haven’t been able to get out for walking much either because the sidewalks are so icy and treacherous. We can’t walk one block without having to climb over a pile of snow or a bad patch of ice. And forget trying to cross the street at the corner most of the time, since that seems to be where people pile their sidewalk snow and the plows pile the street snow.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to spring. Not just for the warmer weather but for the ability to get out and walk again. It will be a lovely spring this year I think…full of good food, lots of walking with Chelsea and some time spent not shivering in my family room, covered in blankets.
This soup kept me warm on Saturday night while the wind howled outside and the windows shook with it. I slurped my way to warmth

Two-Mushroom Barley Soup

1 oz dried porcini mushroom or 1 oz dried shiitake mushroom
4 carrot
8 cup button mushroom
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onion, finely, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp crumbled dried sage
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp tomato, paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup barley
6 cup chicken stock
3 cup water
4 cup packed fresh spinach


Place dried mushrooms in small bowl; pour in 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water.
Let stand for 20 minutes or until softened.
Strain through cheesecloth lined sieve, reserving liquid.
If using shiitakes, cut off tough stem end.
Slice mushrooms into thin strips; set aside.
Meanwhile, peel carrots.
On cutting board and using sharp chef’s knife, slice carrots diagonally; set aside.
Using damp cloth or paper towel, wipe button mushroom caps clean.
Cut off tough stem ends; slice caps thickly.
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook onions and garlic, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until softened.
Add carrots and dried and button mushrooms; cook, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned and liquid is evaporated.
Stir in thyme, sage, pepper and salt.
Stir in tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar and reserved soaking liquid.
Add barley; cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and barley is well coated.
Add stock and water; bring to boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 50 minutes.
Uncover and cook for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. (Soup can be prepared to this point and refrigerated in airtight container for up to 2 days; reheat gently, adding up to 1/2 cup/125 mL more water to thin if desired.)
Trim spinach; flatten and stack leaves with stems all at one end.
Starting at long side, tightly roll up; using sharp chef’s knife, slice crosswise into 1/2-inch (1 cm) wide strips.
Stir into soup; cover and cook for 3 minutes or until wilted