Jan 312011

I’m sure you’re shocked–another soup recipe from Marissa. But really, can you blame me? 56 inches of snow so far in New York, and more to come. Someone upstairs must have beef with New York, because they keep throwing more and more of that white stuff at us, cackling as they watch me stand on a corner as a bus flies by spraying nasty gray slush all over me (true story, had to go home and change). So the only thing that can make it seem a little better–soup.

I have to admit, my soup preference is usually something tomato based. 99% of the time I’d pick a chili or minestrone over anything else. But for the sake of the blog (and variety in my life) I decided to branch out and make a hearty mushroom barley soup.


It starts out pretty predictable…garlic, onion, celery, carrots, thyme, and mushrooms.  I changed it up a little by adding some white beans and spinach at the end, to bump the nutritional value and make it a complete meal.  I didn’t have huge expectations for this soup, but I have to admit it was pretty delish and completely satisfying for a miserable winter day.  Also, as always, froze 4 little bowls of this for easy work lunches.

Nutritional Highlights: I have to say, barley has gone under the radar in my life thus far.  No more.  Half a cup of cooked barley has less than 100 calories, tons of fiber, and even some protein.   Cooking it in a soup like this makes the soup seem creamy, when there was no dairy or thickening agent added.  In addition to the low-calorie mushrooms, heart-healthy garlic, beta-carotene filled carrots, and fibrous celery in this soup, I added a can of protein-packed white beans and a bag of antioxidant rich baby spinach to make it a truly complete and filling meal. This one gives my tomato based favorites a run for their money.  

  • Mushroom Barley Soup (with Spinach and White Beans)
  • adapted from Eating Well

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, chopped (I used a mixture of baby portabello and white)
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Marsala, or cream sherry (see Note)
  • 1 qt low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • 1 bag baby spinach or box frozen spinach

  1. Heat oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic, carrot, celery, onion, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables release some of their juices, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add Marsala (or sherry) and cook, stirring, until reduced, about 2 minutes. Add broth, beans, spinach, and barley; bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables and barley are tender, about 15 minutes.  

  One Response to “Mushroom Barley Soup with Spinach and White Beans”

  1. This looks perfect, I was looking for a healthy and hearty soup this winter with all the good veggies. I usually make a barley soup every year but I think I’ll be changing it up a bit with the mushrooms, beans, and spinach! Thanks!

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