Saturday, February 28, 2009

Barley Soup with Caramelized Onions and Pecorino Cheese

This soup is a bit of work, but very satisfying; it does marvelous things for such humble ingredients. It's a great way to use up any lingering carrots, onions, and celery that might be hiding out in the crisper or in the back of the fridge. You can substitute parmesan cheese for the pecorino if you need to, but you do need a hard, salty cheese on top to set off the sweetness of the soup. I've never added the mushrooms to it, so I don't know if they're crucial or not! 

Recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 quarts Basic Vegetable Stock (see below), and water
  • 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, about 1/2 cup
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. minced rosemary or 2 t. dried
  • 1 c. pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 c. diced celery or celery root
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c. grated Pecorino cheese
  1. Warm the oil in a heavy soup pot. Add the onions, cover, and cook over low heat for 4o minutes. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are browned. While the onions are cooking, make the stock and include the dried porcini (if using). Retrieve them when the stock is done and chop.
  2. Once the onions are browned, add the tomato paste and rosemary and cook for a few minutes more, working the paste into the onions. Add the barley, vegetables, chopped porcini, and strained stock; bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the barley and vegetables are done, about 25 minutes. Taste for salt, season with freshly milled pepper, and serve with cheese grated over the top.
Basic Vegetable Stock

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 celery ribs, including leaves
  • 1 bunch scallions, including half of the greens
  • 1 T. olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast, optional
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 8 parsley branches
  • 6 thyme sprigs or 1/2 t. dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  1. Scrub the vegetables and chop them roughly into 1-inch chunks. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the vegetables, yeast, garlic, and herbs and cook over high heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The more color they get, the richer the flavor of the stock. Add 2 teaspoons salt and 2 quarts cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain.
Stock makes 6 cups; soup will serve 4-6

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