I've been making this soup for over twenty years! Nothing could be simpler or heartier.
It's a meal, in itself.
2/3 cup whole barley, rinsed. (I always used the pearled barley you get at the grocery store, but now I used the hulled, unprocessed barley that I can only find at a health food store)
8 cups of vegetable broth, or No-Chicken broth (Note: I prefer the regular vegetable broth, not the low-sodium for this soup--but that's just me)
2 medium-large onions chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced (or short cut this step by using 1 1/2-2 cups of julienned carrots)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2-4 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill weed (or 1 tablespoon of dried dill weed) *Optional, if you like the taste of dill, which I do. Add slowly, not all at once, you can always add more & adjust to your tastes.
2-4 tablespoons of tomato paste (or a 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes) I always use the tomato paste
8 ounces of fresh white mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
2 ounces of dried mushrooms, rehydrated with boiling water, drained, & then chopped. (Don't use dried mushrooms with tough stems--the kind you find in "mixed mushrooms"--they're too chewy!)
Preparation--Total cooking time is almost 2 hours:
1. RInse barley in a strainer.
2. Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in boiling water--for about 15 minutes, while the vegetables are sauteeing. Drain, and chop.
3. In a heavy 8-quart soup pot, saute the onions until they're wilted & transluscent. Add extra broth in small amounts (1/4 cup) if the onions start to stick to the pot.
4. Add the celery & and saute for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add the carrots, the tomato paste, barley, & 8 cups of vegetable stock, the rehydrated dried mushrooms (once they're softened). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered for about 1 1/2 hours.
6. Now, add the fresh, sliced mushrooms, the parsley, the dill weed, and season to taste with salt & pepper.
7. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 20 more minutes.
8. This tastes even better the next day. It's very thick, so add additional broth, or water if you like a thinner soup. It freezes well.