Mushroom, Spinach, Barley, & Bacon Soup

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My brother gave me Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” for Christmas- it was on my wish list. To be silly he gave it to me with another cookbook titled “Bacon Nation”! The funniest part of this story is that I tried a recipe from “Bacon Nation” first. 🙂 This soup was ultra-flavorful, hearty, and LOADED with mushrooms. The spinach and carrots gave an otherwise “brown” soup a wonderful pop of color. The house smelled divine as it cooked too! This recipe was adapted from Bacon Nation by Peter Kaminsky & Marie Rama.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (I used nitrate-free)
  • 2 medium-size onions, finely chopped
  • 24 oz cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 10 oz white button mushrooms,  wiped clean, stems trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • .88 oz mixed dried wild mushrooms (including porcini, shiitake, black, & oyster mushrooms)
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T dry sherry, divided
  • 8 cups stock (I used 4 cups homemade Turkey Stock, and 4 cups boxed chicken stock)
  • 4 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley (I used par-cooked barley from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 6 oz baby spinach

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  1. Cook the bacon in a soup pot or large saucepan over medium heat until browned but not too crisp and most of the fat is rendered, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary.
  2. Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the fresh and dried mushrooms and the garlic and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. IMG_7324
  4. Add 6 T of the sherry and let boil for about 1 minute to reduce the liquid slightly.
  5. Stir in the stock, carrots, barley, bay leaf, and 3 cups water. Cover the pot and let the soup come to a boil. Then, reduce the heat as necessary and let the soup simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the barley is barely tender, 35 to 40 minutes for standard barley, 15-20 minutes for par-cooked barley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the thyme and the remaining 6 T sherry and let simmer until the flavors blend, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the spinach, increase the heat to high, cover the pot, and cook the spinach until just wilted, about 1 minute. Remove and discard the bay leaf before serving the soup.

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