It’s so Cold Outside! Time for Soup!

I have never been a soup eater.

However, the combination of my husband who always wants soup and super cold weather this winter drove me to the insanity of making soup quite often. While I will only eat soup that first time it’s hot from the pot, and usually won’t touch it the second time, there is a soup that I actually enjoy. This one is hearty, thick, but not a puree (really hate those!) with great earthy taste of mushrooms and barley. Barley is a quite forgotten ancient grain that is surprisingly tasty if you can get a hold of really long full grains.

This soup has many names, most well-known, I think being ‘krupnik‘ – from the word крупа, meaning ‘grain’. In my house it was just called mushroom soup, so – “A rose by any other name”…

It is actually very easy to prepare, and the taste improves as it stays, so make a big pot from the start.

I am not going to put the exact measurements here as everyone likes to have their soup more or less thick. Improvise! Here are the basics:

For about 8-10 portions:

2-3 medium potatoes halved
1-2 medium onions chopped
1 big carrot chopped or cut in rounds
1 stick celery chopped
1-2 handfuls of barley washed a couple of times and soaked for 2-3 hours (you can soak the barley overnight if it’s easier)
If you can find them – dry mushrooms, 1-2 tbsps. – soaked in boiling water for 1-2 hours, then chopped small
Mixed mushrooms – whichever you can find – about 1.5-2 pounds (more if you are not using dried mushrooms) cut not too small

Prepare a pot of boiling water – 3/4 liters – about 4 gallons, add 2-3 tsps. of salt, put barley in, and after it turns back to boiling, keep it simmering on the stove until barley is almost done. This can take between 30 minutes to an hour depending on your barley. After the barley is almost done, add potatoes.
Meanwhile, in a very large skillet heat the olive or sunflower oil (about 2-3 tbsps.) sauté the onions, carrots and celery with salt, black pepper (hopefully freshly ground), dried dill and /or parsley to your taste for about 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms, and sauté for 3-4 minutes more.

Once the barley is soft to your liking, and potatoes are practically done, take them out and roughly mash with a fork or just break into smaller chunks.

Add all the vegetables from the pan to the soup as well as potatoes that you’ve just broken into pieces, and adjust the seasonings. I usually add some dried rosemary, regular and smoked paprika, more dried dill (unless I have fresh on hand to finish the dish), salt and regular back pepper.

Let the soup simmer just for a few minutes more to allow the tastes to blend together, sprinkle some fresh parsley or dill on top, and enjoy!

May we soon see some warmer days!

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