This is such a fantastic, winter warmer dish. I've been making a lot of casseroley stew type dishes recently because of the freezing cold weather and the addition of barley to this was fantastic. The first half I ate with spring greens and the second with the end of a piece of white cabbage, both worked by the spring greens gave a better colour! It would be nice with kale as an alternative too.
Wild Mushroom, Bacon and Barley Broth
(from Good Food Magazine Janurary 2010)
200g bacon lardons
4 medium carrots
3 celery sticks
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 sprig rosemary and thyme
30g dried porcini or dried mixed wild mushrooms
1 glass white wine
1½l chicken stock
175g pearl barley, well rinsed
1 small head spring greens or chunk of Savoy cabbage
Parmesan or any strong hard cheese, grated, to serve
Put a large saucepan over a medium heat. Fry the lardons for 10 mins until golden, stirring now and then. While they cook, chop the onions, carrots and celery into smallish pieces. When the bacon is ready, stir in the veg, garlic and herbs, cover and gently cook for 10 mins.
Meanwhile, put the mushrooms into a jug, then fill up to the 600ml mark with boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 mins.
Lift the mushrooms out of their juice with a slotted spoon and roughly chop. Turn up the heat under the pan, add the mushrooms, fry for 1 min, then pour in the wine. Let it evaporate right down, then pour the liquid from the mushroom jug into the pan, avoiding the last drops, as they can be gritty.
Add the stock and barley. Simmer for 40 mins until the barley is tender. Lift out the thyme and rosemary stalks. This can be made up to 2 days ahead or frozen for up to 1 month. If you make ahead, the soup will need loosening with a little more stock as the barley will thicken it over time.
When ready to serve, finely shred the greens and simmer in the soup for 5 mins until tender. Season to taste, then serve with cheese for sprinkling over the top and crusty bread.