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Barley Soup with Mushrooms

Perliniu Kruopu Sriuba su Grybais
This is taken from three different cookbooks with barley soup recipes. One uses only dried mushrooms, the second only fresh mushrooms, while the third book uses fresh and dried mushrooms. Two recipes use only sour cream while the third uses whipping cream. From reading the various books, both old and modern, I tend to think the sour cream would be more traditional. Recently, in one of my cooking classes we were making Beef Stroganoff and one of the students used 100% sour cream - I usually use lite sour cream. There was an amazing difference in flavor between the two. So if your diet allows 100% sour cream, go ahead and try it.

Picking and drying mushrooms was a regular summertime occupation in Lithuania where the mushrooms would either be dried or pickled for the coming winter to give variety to the meals. The normal white button mushrooms here bear no relation to the mushrooms grown there. Imported dried Porcini, or cepe mushrooms are often recommended but are about $4-$5 for less than a ounce. I bought imported dried shiitake mushrooms at Costco for $8 for 8oz. For the last two years Costco has carried these mushrooms in the spring, so they are probably a seasonal item sold in the fresh vegetable section. The first year, I kept them tightly sealed in a Ziploc, and the following year they were sold in a screw top plastic jar. Be aware that when you rehydrate dried mushrooms they stink, but taste fine and you need to discard the stem as it is too tough.

If you don't want to spend the time cutting the vegetables into even sized pieces then either chop everything in a food processor or use the grating blade and grate everything. The important thing in every soup is to have all the ingredients the same size. I prefer to cut them quite small so that you get more than one piece of vegetable on a spoon. I tried making this using the 1lb bag of imported frozen mushroom medley from Trader Joe's which I really like, but they were too strong for this soup.

I also made this with the Kashi pilaf which is full of fiber and protein and excellent but needs presoaking overnight. A 19.5 oz box of Kashi is sold at my Market Basket for $1.89 and contains three sealed packets. Only half of one sealed packet is needed for this soup. Soak in cold not hot water. Kashi contains whole oats, long grain brown rice, whole rye, whole hard red winter wheat, whole triticale, whole buckwheat, whole barley, and sesame seeds. Sesame seeds float on top during the soaking - don't mistake them for something strange. ½ c cooked Kashi contains no cholesterol, no saturated fat, 3 g fat, and 6 g protein. Kasha is the name given to grains cooked to an oatmeal/porridge type consistency that is served for breakfast but also can be cooked with vegetables like a rice pilaf and in a variety of other ways.


  • 1 oz imported dried mushrooms (4-6 mushrooms)
  • 5 c stock - chicken, or vegetable for vegetarian. I use 12 oz soda can of V8 juice (ordinary not spicy) plus water for vegetable stock. Quite high sodium, but you're diluting it.
  • 1 c water
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½" dice
  • 2 large celery stalks, washed, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½" dice
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½" dice
  • ½ lb cleaned and sliced ordinary white mushrooms
  • ½ c pearl barley (or kashi) soaked in 2 c of water for at least 2 hours, then drained. I do prefer to soak both barley and kashi overnight.
  • Bouquet garni of 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp dry parsley and 1 tsp dry thyme tied inside coffee filter bag
  • ¼ c cream or sour cream
  • ¾ c Swiss cheese grated (3oz)
  • Chopped fresh parsley or dill to garnish
  • salt and pepper


1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the 1c of water for 2 hours. Drain the mushrooms through a coffee filter and retain the soaking liquid. Remove the stalk from mushrooms and chop finely. (I use a mini processor).

2. Melt the butter in an 8 quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, potato and chopped dry mushrooms and cook gently, covered, for about 10 minutes until vegetables are softening.

3. Add sliced fresh mushrooms and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

4. Add drained barley, reserved mushroom liquid, 5c of stock and pepper.

5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes.

6. The vegetables should be cooked but the barley might need more cooking. Length of cooking depends on age of barley (if it was hidden in the back of the cupboard it might be really tough) and I normally prefer to put barley to soak overnight to give as much time as possible for rehydration. If you do not intend to serve the soup immediately, then just turning off heat and leaving soup and therefore barley to sit covered for an hour or so will probably do the same work of softening barley.

7. Add the cream and cheese and simmer stirring occasionally until cheese is melted - 5 minutes.

8. Adjust seasoning now after addition of cheese. Serve with chopped fresh parsley or dill.

Enjoy!   Let me know how the recipe worked for you.

By the way, the website for the brand is and has many recipes as well as other food items. Kashi makes an excellent protein bar that actually tastes good - I prefer the vanilla yogurt to the peanut or strawberry, as well as high protein breakfast cereals. I'm not a cereal eater but friends like their cereals.

Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, is a qualified teacher and offers a Personal Chef and Catering Service. She can be seen frequently on WMUR ABC's Channel 9 Cooks Corner. Contact Oonagh on 424-6412 or visit her web site at

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Last modified: Jan. 21, 2001
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