Mushroom-barley soup is the very definition of comfort food. This healthy shortcut version trims at least an hour off the traditional recipe by using quick-cooking barley and precut fresh mushrooms and carrots.
2 cups quick-cooking barley
5 cups water
2 (8-ounce) packages sliced brown or white mushrooms
1 cup pre-grated carrots
1 large vegetable bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon powdered soup base
2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning (like Frontier or Mrs. Dash)
3–4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1–2 cups plain, unsweetened nondairy milk, or more,
Chopped fresh parsley and/or dill, as desired
Salt, to taste
• In soup pot, combine barley and water. Bring to rapid simmer over high heat.
• In the meantime, put mushrooms in colander and rinse well (move them around under the running water to remove any traces of grit).
• To soup pot, add mushrooms, grated carrots (chop them into smaller pieces or leave them long), bouillon cube, salt-free seasoning, and white parts of scallions.
• Return to rapid simmer, then turn down heat and cook for 10 minutes, or until barley is tender.
• Stir in enough nondairy milk to give soup a medium-thick texture. Season with salt.
• Add green parts of scallions, along with as much fresh parsley and/or dill as you’d like. Let soup stand for a few minutes before serving, or serve right away.
• Make sure the mushrooms look fresh and clean. Sliced mushrooms are more perishable than whole.
• The soup thickens considerably as it stands. Thin with nondairy milk or water as needed, and adjust the seasonings.
Nava Atlas is the author of many cookbooks, most recently, Plant Power, Wild About Greens, and Vegan Holiday Kitchen.