Soup and balances

I’m fond of making soup this time of year, maybe as a counterbalance to the rich and sweet goodies that abound. I figure a pot of vegetable-based soup must absorb a goodly number of the calories from Moravian spice cookies or Gorgonzola cheese.

Last night, I made a variation of the mushroom-barley soup recipe in Barbara Kafka’s “Soup: A Way of Life” (Artisan, 1998). It’s below with my changes. But before you think there’s too much healthy eating going on in my house, I paired it with spinach salad with bacon-apple cider dressing. One does need a balanced diet.

Mushroom-Barley Soup

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1/4 ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

1 tablespoon nondairy margarine or butter

1 small onion, minced

1/2 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Let sit for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve the soaking liquid. In a medium saucepan, bring the barley, carrot, celery, rehydrated mushrooms, chicken broth and 4-5 cups water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

In a medium frying pan, melt the margarine or butter over medium heat. Cook the onion for about 8 minutes or until soft. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes or so, until soft. Put the mixture in a bowl. Pour the mushroom soaking liquid into the pan and bring to a boil, stirring wiht a wooden spoon to get up any browned bits. Add the liquid along with the onion mixture to the soup. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes then stir in the garlic. Simmer covered for 5 minutes. Stir in the salt and black pepper.