Posts Tagged ‘mushroom barley soup’

Truly Superior Mushroom Barley Soup

December 2, 2011

I love the New England Soup Factory Cookbook. One of the recipes that really caught my eye was the Wild Mushroom and Barley Soup. Wild mushroom, tomato paste, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, broth red wine . . .   As my grandmother A”H would have said, with all those good ingredients, how could it not be delicious?

If not made properly, Mushroom Barley soup can look and taste a bit insipid. This recipe intensifies the flavor, texture and even color of the soup. Tomato and wine add color and flavor sharpening acidity. The wild mushrooms add more flavor and texture. Another improvement is the suggestion to limit the cooking time to keep the barley chewy rather than mushy.

I veered quite a bit off course in making the soup, using only cremini mushrooms instead of the mix of shitake, portobello, chanterelle and enoki. Instead of broth, I used water (well seasoned with salt and pepper, of course). I shifted the balance of vegetables ever so slightly just because of what was on hand. Instead of tomato paste, I used tomato juice.

Did you know that you can sometimes substitute tomato juice for tomato paste? It really only works when you are adding tomato paste and a liquid at the same time. Tomato juice (read the label) is made primarily from water and tomato paste.

What you do is figure that every cup of bottled tomato juice is about 3 Tbl. tomato paste and 3/4 cup water. So, if you need a Tbl. of tomato paste, and you are supposed to add it at the same time as water, you add 1/3 cup of tomato juice and subtract 4 Tbl. of water from what you would otherwise add. If you are dealing with soup, especially an absorbent soup like mushroom barley, you don’t even need to subtract out the liquid.

This trick, of course, works in reverse if you need tomato juice for a recipe and only have tomato paste on hand.  If you need a quart of tomato juice, just mix a 6 ounce can with 24 ounces or so of water (okay, that makes 30 ounces, not 32 ounces, but whatever . . . ).