Mushroom Barley Soup

A close friend has requested my recipe for Mushroom Barley Soup – the ultimate compliment – so I am sharing it here. After several weeks of beautiful weather with balmy temperatures we are back to wind and rain here in the north of Israel and so a perfect day to make another hardy, winter soup!

To get started, it is very helpful to presoak 1 cup of barley in a measuring cup with 1 cup of water – essentially double the amount of barley. This is not an essential step, however it will speed up the cooking of the barley. (Another option if you are short on time is to microwave the barley and water for 1 – 2 minutes.)


1 T vegetable oil (I use sunflower oil, and then add a small amount of olive oil for more flavor)

1 medium onion or leek (white parts), chopped

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 medium carrots, diced

2-3 celery stalks, diced (including leaves – if the celery root is attached, so much the better)

1 package of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

Optional: 1 cup green cabbage, julienned and chopped, medium zucchini, grated

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups chickpeas, cooked, including their cooking liquid

1 cup barley, pre-soaked 1 hour

6 – 8 Cups of vegetable stock or water or vegetarian soup stock.

1 tsp. salt, pepper to taste


1.  Heat the vegetable oil over low heat in a pot large enough to hold all the Ingredients.  Add chopped onion or leek and sauté for five minutes with the cover on over low heat, until the onions or leek slices are translucent and begin to brown.  Add the garlic, sauté for a few minutes, and then stir in celery, carrots, mushrooms (and optional vegetables).  The more different kinds of vegetables that you add, the better the soup will be. Let cook ten minutes (add a few tablespoons of water if the pot starts to get dry), and add parsley, chick peas and cooking liquid.

2.  Stir, and add stock or water.  Raise heat, and bring the soup to a boil.  Then, lower heat and add the barley, simmering at least one hour, with the top on the pot, but open a crack.  

3. Taste and cook longer if the flavor is not strong enough yet.  Add salt and pepper just before serving.  

What is your favorite winter weather soup? Tell me what you like – or what you would like me to share – in the comments below.

A quick note on Celery Root: Celery Root is a wonderful addition to soups – all you have to do is clean and trim the root, then julienne the root and add it together with the celery stalk and leaves. You may find celery with the root attached; other times you can buy the celery root separately.

Cleaned, trimmed celery with the root attached

Published by skfinston

Born February 21, 1961 in Detroit, Michigan; enjoying 2nd Middle Age in Zichron Yaakov, Israel. After a misspent youth in the US Foreign Service (postings in London, Tel Aviv and Manila), I moved to the Semi-private Sector, working for a leading trade association in Washington DC before launching my own company Finston Consulting in 2005. Over the last 15+ years I have worked with innovative companies ranging from Fortune-100 to start up, as well as NGOs, and governments, including service as a cleared advisor (Secret level) to the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative (IPR, Tariff/Trade Facilitation). As a graduate of the University of Michigan, my degrees include a Bachelors of Science (Philosophy, High Honors), Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Policy. After law school I clerked at the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit before joining the U.S. Foreign Service (TSI-CodeWord Clearance). I am a member of the Illinois and US Supreme Court Bar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: