17 December 2013

A Soup to Fight the Cold

I love soup in the winter--it's warming and filling without leaving you with the feeling that you swallowed a lead weight (which can be fun--I'm looking at you, mashed potatoes and gravy--but not so good for you every day).  This is inspired by the classic barley and mushroom combination with a few other ingredients thrown in to keep it from getting monotonous.  Substitute as you wish, but I do love to see something orange or red, something green in there...

Winter Harvest Soup

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 acorn squash
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups mixed mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 bunch kale, thinly sliced
3 cups pearl barley, washed and sorted
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cut the squash in half, rub the flesh with a little olive oil, and salt lightly.  Place both sides flesh-side down on a baking sheet and bake at 425°F (no need to preheat oven) until flesh is soft but still firm, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to release their moisture, then stir in the kale and barley.  Season liberally with salt, add the stock, cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cook until barley is tender but still a bit chewy, 20 minutes or more.

When the squash is tender but still firm, remove from oven.  Score the flesh with a sharp knife and scoop it out with a spoon.  Add to the soup just as the barley is about done.  Stir in soy sauce, season with salt and pepper, and serve.