Mushroom & Barley Soup

By Jeffrey Yoskowitz & Liz Alpern

Part of what made mushrooms—one of the primary flavoring agents of Ashkenazi cuisine—so popular was the fact that they could be foraged from the forests, free of charge. The best foragers, often peasant women, would gather extras after a rain spell and sell them at markets.

This recipe is best with porcinis, both dried and fresh, but other mushrooms, including shiitakes and portobellos, will taste great. The dried mushrooms give this soup particular depth. Also note that the barley is cooked separately from the broth, to ensure a soup that isn’t gummy or porridge-like, as mushroom barley can sometimes be.

Serves 8


2½ Tbsp. vegetable oil 

½ cup pearl barley 

8 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade (page 123, made with red wine) 

4 sprigs fresh dill, plus chopped fresh dill for garnish 

½ oz dried mushrooms (about ¾ cup loosely packed) 

½ cup boiling water 

1 large carrot, peeled and diced 

1 celery stalk, diced 

1 small onion, diced 

1 lb fresh porcini mushrooms, stems removed, quartered 

1 tsp kosher salt 

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


1. In a small nonstick saucepan, heat ½ tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the barley and toast it, stirring frequently, until it becomes fragrant and flecked with dark brown spots, about 7 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of the broth and add 1 sprig of the dill. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium heat until the barley is cooked through but not soft, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the dill sprig, and drain any remaining liquid from the grain. Set aside. 

2. While the barley is cooking, place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let them rehydrate for about 25 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, reserving the liquid and slicing the reconstituted mushrooms into small pieces. 

3. In a large stockpot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and porcinis. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the rehydrated mushrooms, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, remaining 7 cups broth, the salt, pepper, and remaining 3 sprigs dill and simmer until the vegetables are soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and discard the dill sprigs. Stir in the barley. Salt to taste. 

4. Serve the soup garnished with chopped fresh dill. It tastes best when reheated the next day.

Excerpted from the book THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO by Jeffrey Yoskowitz & Liz Alpern. Copyright ©2016 by Gefilte Manifesto LLC. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.

Service Section: Recipes, Chanukah 
Source: The Gefilteria