Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

The kitchen was really busy last night. Eight of us were buzzing around cooking for an upcoming party. Really great energy. As much as I think I am a person who prefers to be alone, I love the energy of being in the kitchen with a crowd of people. Don’t get me wrong — there is something  to cooking alone — being there in the quiet, creating something delicious for someone else to enjoy. It ministers to my spirit, and I sometimes get great ideas and thoughts about other projects. But a group that is working well together, chaotic as it might be, also ministers to the whole group in a way that can’t be duplicated. In the middle of this I was putting together my favorite Beef Mushroom Barley soup for guests and a retreat group the next day. What could be better on a cold rainy day! My brother in law just came through and tasted the soup. He said it needed some red wine, so I added a splash. He was so right!

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Mushroom Beef Barley Soup



  1. Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms to cover, set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, saute beef in 1 Tablespoon oil until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, remove from pan.
  3. In the same pot, with the other Tablespoon of oil, cook your carrots, onions, leeks, celery and baby bella mushrooms until just browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in barley and thyme and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the beef broth.
  6. Drain dried mushrooms in a sieve, and add that liquid also to the pot.
  7. Chop the mushrooms until fine, and add those.
  8. Toss in the bay leaves.
  9. Simmer until meat is tender and barley cooked (about an hour for the beef tenders, and longer for the stew meat).
  10. A little while before serving pour in the wine, and heat again.
  11. Add kosher salt and ground pepper to taste. This can be made 2 or 3 days in advance — it will taste even better if made ahead.