In my world the holidays equals all things indulgent. Appropriately, rich food such as festive pork ham, goose, heavenly mac and cheese, fancy brioche rolls and my mother’s Christmas cookies start to overwhelm me. To top it off, the New Year’s dinner party plan is to prepare a buffet with a tour of endless foods. I'm thankful for all the goodies, but that constant overeating starts to get to me. Time to unpack my New Year’s resolutions!
This time of the year, especially when it's cold outside, my body craves comforting foods, and I have been unraveling some soothing, pleasant recipes.
Mushrooms are good.
Dried mushrooms make a soup rich in flavor vs. being glutinous. They're readily available in many stores and can be kept in the cupboard for many weeks if need be—perfect for an impromptu recipe. In addition, I like to combine them with fresh button mushrooms, garlic and onions, which make the base flavor for my soup. The satisfying kicker is added with barley.
Mushroom & Barley Soup
(recipe yield for 4 portions)
1 cup dried sliced shiitake
1-inch piece ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as sunflower seed
1 cup red onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 grindings black pepper from a mill
10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup barley, soaked in water overnight
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoon miso paste
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1) Cover shiitake mushrooms with 4 cups of hot water.
2) In a gallon-sized pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and thyme. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
3) Add button mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.
4) Add broth, the shiitake mushrooms with their 4 cups of soaking water, button mushrooms and barley; bring to boil and cook on low heat for 45 minutes.
5) Take the soup off the flame and add soy sauce, miso and parsley. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Chef’s tip: Try the recipe above with one cup of finely chopped watercress instead of the parsley.