Mushroom Barley Soup
Bacon adds a smoky flavor to this earthy soup; tomato paste adds a touch of sweetness. Use quick-cooking barley as a time-saver. It has the same nutty flavor as pearl barley, but it cooks in approximately half the time.
- 3 strips bacon (3 to 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
- 1 cup quick-cooking barley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
In a large pot (6 to 8 quarts), cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring often, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until they are tender and pot is almost dry, 5 to 10 minutes (depending on type of mushrooms). Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute more.
Add broth, barley, oregano, and 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, until barley is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add more water to thin soup, as needed. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in vinegar. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with parsley.