Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mushroom Barley Soup Rouxbe.com style

Mushroom & Barley Soup
From rouxbe.com’s great site & cooking class

Hands-on time: 60 minutes (on and off but really only about 15-20 minutes of actual work)
Cooking time: 1 hour or so
Serves 6-8

½ cup pearl barley
½ tsp Kosher salt
1½ cups stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 oz/30g dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water

5 to 6 shallots (about 1 cup, once minced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 cups sliced mushrooms (they like white button, I love cremini)
4 to 5 sage leaves (1 tablespoon) ( I used thyme sprigs instead)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¾ cup dry-to-medium sherry (they use 1 full cup)
3 ½ cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
½ cup sour cream or plain yoghurt

1. To cook the barley, place it into a small pot along with the salt and stock. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for about 30-35 minutes.

2. Soak the dried mushrooms in enough hot water to cover for at least 30 minutes. Strain through a filter and reserve the soaking liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.

3. While the mushrooms are soaking, finely mince the shallots and garlic. They suggested slicing the mushrooms about 1/8-inch thick, but I just cut them into quarters and pulsed them until coarsely chopped in a food processor. I also minced the shallots and garlic in the food processor separately and set them aside in two separate bowls.

4. To cook the soup, heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the butter and oil. When the butter melts, add the shallots and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes, until softened and translucent.

5. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and immediately turn up the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their juices and start to brown slightly. This should take about 10 minutes or so.

6. Meanwhile, check on the barley. Turn off the heat once tender. Keep covered and set aside.

7. Once the dried mushrooms are soft and rehydrated, remove them from the liquid and strain through a sieve lined with a coffee filter. This will help to remove any grit. Make sure to reserve the mushroom liquid, as it will add even more flavor to the soup. Finely chop the rehydrated mushrooms and set aside.

8. Once the mushrooms in the pot begin to brown, don’t stir too often. To help them brown nicely, you want them be in direct contact with the surface of the pot.

9. Once the mushrooms are golden brown, turn the heat down to medium-high, and add the rehydrated mushrooms and garlic. Let this cook for about 30 seconds, and then deglaze with the sherry. Once almost all of the sherry has evaporated, sprinkle the mixture with flour. This technique is known as singer. It's a sprinkling of flour to help thicken the mixture. Stir in the flour and let cook for about a minute.

10. Next, add the reserved mushroom liquid, and while stirring, add the stock. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

11. To finish the soup, stir in the barley and thyme. Temper the sour cream with a bit of the hot soup, just so it blends evenly into the soup.

For an even creamier finish, you can add a touch of heavy cream if you like. Temper the cream by first heating it in the ladle, and then slowly combining it with a bit of the hot soup. I didn't bother adding cream...my waistline said "no thank you...at least not this time".

And you will definitely think it’s all worth the effort. Actually, you’re only standing in front of the stove for about 15 minutes in total. Not such a big deal for a really awesome soup.

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