Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mushroom Barley Stew

The frigid heart of winter is a time for stew. Combining the heartiness of a meal, with the warm deliciousness of soup, there's nothing quite like a bowl of stew on a cold day. Just imagine hearty chunks of potato, earthy mushrooms, some carrots for sweetness, the chewy toothsomeness of barley, all in a rich broth with hints of sage...(this is starting to sound like a Chunky Soup commercial)...sounds good, right? This is a great recipe to make on a Sunday afternoon, then stow away in the fridge for easy weeknight meals, or even weekday lunches. As with pretty much all soups and stews, this one is definitely better the next day. Serve with some nice warm crusty bread, or fresh baked biscuits, and you'll want for nothing on those frigid winter nights.

This recipe really couldn't be easier. Prep all the ingredients then heat the oil in large (at least 5 quart) pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, potatoes, sage, salt and pepper.

Cook until the veggies start to brown, stir in the mushrooms and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the barley, and cook, stirring frequently for 2 more minutes. Add the stock and/or water, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and voila! Stew!

Don't like barley? Try brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, couscous, bulgur, or whatever grain suits your fancy. Feel free to experiment with herbs as well, substituting rosemary or thyme for the sage, or use them in combination. Not a mushroom eater? Leave em' out. Try some butternut squash or sweet potato in there. So many possibilities!

Mushroom Barley Stew (~1 hour 15 minutes - 6 to 8 large servings)
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (cut lengthwise into quarters, cut each quarter into 3 pieces)
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and chopped into chunks
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms (any type, I like a combo of baby bella and button)
  • 2/3 cup uncooked pearled barley
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (can use water, or a water/stock combo)
  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat (pot should be at least 5 quarts)
  2. When oil shimmers, add onion, potato, celery, carrot, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper
  3. Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown, about 10 minutes
  4. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes
  5. Stir in the barley and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes
  6. Add the stock/water, raise the heat, and bring to a boil
  7. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  8. Taste then season with additional salt* and pepper to taste
*If you used water or a homemade stock that is low on salt, you might need to add as much as a teaspoon or more of salt (add 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting as you go). Store-bought stocks are often quite high in salt, so taste and go from there.


mom said...

This stew/soup is delicious! I love the sage flavor with the vegetables. I am making it again right now :)

Darron said...

Glad you liked it...I thought the switch from thyme to sage made a big difference. Just a matter of preference though - I'm not a big thyme fan, at least not as the main seasoning in a dish.