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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Miso Mushroom Barley Soup

I haven’t been in my kitchen at all the past week. My wonderful boys shared a not so wonderful flu with me that knocked me on my butt for days. I am finally starting to feel human again and just had to get back in the kitchen. The first thing I felt like making was a big pot of nourishing soup. My soups are often a kind of a hodge-podge of ingredients, I like to survey what I have on hand and something yummy emerges magically in the pot (usually, that is!). The only problem being remembering the ingredients and writing them down when the soup turns out amazing!
 The Miso brings an amazing depth of flavour to the broth in this soup, and adds a big punch of nutrients and beneficial bacteria, perfect for a post flu meal.
Feel free to change up the greens to use up what you have, kale would be great, (add to the pot when sautéing the mushrooms, it needs to cook a little longer) and spinach would rock too, but add it when you add the Miso, as it is a bit more delicate.
The barley in this soup is entirely optional. Leave it out for a grain free or gluten free version, as barley does contain gluten. I do not seem to have any adverse reactions with barley, but it is still a grain, and we only have it occasionally.

Miso Mushroom Barley Soup

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 med-lg onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb mushrooms, thickly sliced (I had white button, but crimini or other type would be great)
2 cups (packed) Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
1 cup cooked barley**
6 cups chicken broth, homemade if possible! (Sub veggie stock to make it vegetarian!)
2 cups water
2 TBSP Miso paste (I used a Traditional Mame Miso, feel free to use your favourite!)
Salt and pepper to taste (use salt sparingly, AFTER adding the Miso, as the Miso is salty)

Sauté onions in the coconut oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 min more. Add the mushrooms and sauté for just a few minutes more, just until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the stock and the water and bring to a boil. Before it boils, steal a few tbsp of broth and put in a small bowl.
Add the 2 tbsp of Miso paste to your small bowl of broth, and mix together until it becomes a thinner paste. Set aside.
Stir in the barley and the Swiss chard; turn down heat and let simmer, covered for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, let stand uncovered for a minute or two, and then add your Miso mixture. Stir to combine thoroughly. Miso should be added at the very last, after the soup has boiled. Being a fermented food, it is full of beneficial bacteria and nutrients, so the less heat the better!
Adjust seasonings to taste, and enjoy!

**I like to cook large pots of barley and quinoa, and then freeze in 1 cup portions to throw in soups etc. The ratio of pot barley to water is 1-2 ½, so if you use 1 cup of barley, boil it in 2 ½ cups water or broth for 45 minutes. I prefer pot barley to pearl barley, as it is less refined, but it does take longer to cook.

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