Meatless Monday: The Joys of a Soup Swap


This year, I participated in a fledgling soup swap here in Boulder, CO. Our host, Julie, has a friend in New York who has been participating in National Soup Swap for a while and had 197 quarts of soup at her house during this year’s swap. That’s a lot of soup!

While we didn’t have quite that much our choices were wonderful and they were all unique. There was Harira (a personal favorite, recipe forthcoming), Greek Chicken Soup with Orzo and Lemon, Spanish Bean, Carrot Ginger (made creamy with tofu), Boulder’s famous Kitchen Cafe’s Tomato Soup, Adirondack Smoked Bacon, Potato and Cheddar, Dahl, Flanken, White Bean Turkey Chili (which was featured on Epicurious)  – just to mention a few…

The best thing is you make 6 quarts of one soup, which quite frankly you never want to see again, and come home with a quart of 6 different soups! Brillant! Much to my surprise there were many soups that featured meat (this is Boulder after all).

As per my modus operendi, I couldn’t make a choice, made 3 soups but had to settle on one and decided to go with a vegan mushroom barley which was actually teeming with barley and mushroom flavor. It came out more as a stoup (soup/stew) which would make it suitable for Meatless Monday. Can’t wait for next year!

Teeming Vegan Mushroom Barley
Makes 6 Quarts

1 1/2 cups pearl barley, soaked overnight in 4 cups of water

For caramelized onions – You can try Kimberly’s method for the onions, but dice the onions. Otherwise, dice 6 medium to large onions. Heat a large enamled coated cast iron pot (like Le Creuset) and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom well. Once the oil is warm, add the onions, give a good stir then cover and cook for 40 minutes. Check on them periodically and stir them around. Now’s a good time to start the vegetable stock. Both of these can be done a day ahead.

Vegetable Stock – this recipe is based on Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (one of the best vegetarian cookbooks out there). One surprise ingredient is nutritional yeast which adds a wonderful element of umami. I also added a large piece of Kombu seaweed, but this is optional. One quick note: while I am sure the desire to use stock in a box is strong, I really encourage you all to make fresh vegetable stock. It just tastes better.

olive oil
4 carrots, roughly chopped
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 onions, with skin chopped in quarters
8 cloves of garlic
4 thyme sprigs or 1 tsp. dried leaf
1 bay leaf, Turkish preferred
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
4 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 large piece of kombu
4 qts. water

Heat some oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, onion and celery to get them brown. You can also do this step in the oven on a cookie sheet at about 425 degrees until they just turn brown.

Add the aromatics, yeast, kombu and then the water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain and continue.

Teeming Mushroom Barley Soup -continued

caramelized onions (instructions above)
1/4 cup  tomato paste
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, re-hydrated and chopped, reserve the water
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped marjoram (or rosemary, your choice)
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced celery root
4 large carrots, diced
1/2 cup olive oil (for the mushrooms)
2 pints cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry or sweet vermouth, again your choice
5 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
Freshly grated Pecorino cheese for garmish

Once the onions are all soft, add the tomato paste and really work it into the onions. Add the marjoram and stir again. Now add the celery, celery root and carrots. Stir well. Add the re-hydrated porcini and the water.

In another pan, heat the olive oil and cook the mushrooms, in batches if necessary. Add the vermouth and allow it to cook off. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add them to the pot. Now add the drained barley and strained stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for 25 minutes. Add the garlic and adjust the seasonings. If the barley absorbs too much liquid, add a bit more to your liking. My soup was fairly thick.

For serving, place into large bowls and be generous with the grated pecorino. Freeze the rest and give it away!


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