I went out for lunch a while back, and had a bottomless bowl of soup – which on that day was cream of mushroom. They served a generous bowl of bland, and unbelievably lumpy soup; and ever since Ibeen craving a decent bowl of mushroom soup. I had some freeze dried porcini mushrooms that were past the best-before-date, and some crimini mushrooms that were just starting to wrinkle, so decided to try my culinary skills on some soup!
This recipe uses tofu, which has been frozen, then defrosted and the water squeezed out; then sliced into pieces about the size of the mushrooms. This is then simmered in a mushroom broth made with mushroom bullion. The result is mushroom tasting tofu, which boosts the protein content of your soup.
Satisfactorily squeezing the water out of defrosted frozen tofu takes practice and patience. I have a large rock which I place on top of the tofu, which I place on top of a flat bottomed dish (very important! You need the water to run off, not pool inside the circular ridge which is on the bottom of most plates and dishes), which is placed inside a baking tin (to catch the water so it doesn’t run all over the counter, or fridge, if I am squeezing overnight).
The other secret item in this soup is the bay leaf. A friend who has a bay leaf tree gave me some leaves which are the single most amazing bay leaves I’ve ever had. They are so incredibly full of flavor. I had no idea bay leaves could be so potent. I also use them in french onion soup (in place of beef broth). If you can get some really fresh bay leaves, go for it. They add huge potential to your spice cupboard.
Mushroom Barley Soup
Sauté together in a large Dutch oven
- little hot olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 30 grams freeze dried giordani porcini
- 350 grams fresh crimini mushrooms
Reduce heat to lowest simmer, cover and allow to cook slowly to release juices from mushrooms and rehydrate the freeze-dried porcinis.
Meanwhile slice and cut into cubes, roughly the same size as your sliced mushrooms, a block of medium firm tofu, which has been frozen, defrosted, and had the water squeezed out. (Asian tofu cooking secret!) Boil a kettle of water, and 3 cups of boiled water to a saucepan. Add to that:
- 3 porcini bullion cubes (when I can’t find these, I use just plain ordinary mushroom bullion cubes)
- and the tofu
All the tofu to simmer in the mushroom bullion. When the pan of mushrooms is cooked, add the tofu/bullion mixture and:
- 2 cups cooked barley (I use pearled and de-hulled brown barley, rather than polished white barley. There’s a big difference in taste and texture.)
While you are waiting for your soup to come back to a simmer, whisk together (NO LUMPS!!!):
- about 3/4 cup of cool water
- 2 T of all purpose flour
Stir that into your simmering pot of soup (it will thicken, just ever so slightly). Then add:
- 250 ml table cream (18%)
This soup is to die for.