The combination of barley and mushrooms is an Eastern European favorite, and this soup makes the best of both ingredients by layering the flavor with three kinds of mushrooms. Be sure to use pearl barley for the best results. For a soy-free version, omit the soy sauce and use a soy-free sauce (purchased or homemade]) or add some soy-free vegetable broth base or additional salt.
SERVES 4 TO 6
SLOW COOKER SIZE: 4- TO 6-QUART
COOK TIME: 6 HOURS ON LOW
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
½ cup pearl barley
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
5 cups vegetable broth
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill, for garnish
Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl or cup and cover with hot water. Set aside to soften while you prep the remaining ingredients. When the dried mushrooms are soft, drain them, straining and reserving ½ cup of the soaking liquid. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
For the best flavor, heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, omit the oil and sauté these ingredients in a few tablespoons of water or combine them in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water, cover, and microwave for 2 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker. Add the barley, cremini and shiitake mushrooms, broth, tomatoes, soy sauce, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the reserved mushroom liquid and porcini mushrooms, cover, and cook on Low for 6 hours.
Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot, sprinkled with the parsley.
Robertson, Robin. Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes (p. 66). Harvard Common Press. Kindle Edition.