Here in my house, 3/4's of the year we make 2 soups weekly- my mother's classic chicken soup and something else. That something else can range from a pureed vegetable soup to a rich meatball or flanken soup. This mushroom barley falls somewhere in the middle because it is hearty enough to be a meal. This winter it keeps popping up in the rotation.
The soup is layered with bella mushrooms and herbs while using dried porcini and other savory aromatics to provide a depth of flavor. It is filled with vegetables like carrots and celery and of course barley. In my home we use short grain brown rice to satisfy the gluten-free crowd and no one is the wiser.
Either way you make it, I don't suggest freezing the soup as the barley or rice will get mushy and gross. Instead, keep the soup in the refrigerator so you can have it on hand all week when you need it. It will last a full 7 days. Unless you finish it first.
1 box white button mushrooms (about 8 oz), stems removed and diced
1/4 oz dried mushrooms- any variety (about 1/4 cup)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups barley or short grain brown rice
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Take a large soup pot and set it over a medium flame. Cook your onion with with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of your salt for 3 minutes. You just want your onion to become translucent- not brown. Add your garlic, celery, carrots, 1 more tablespoon of oil and another 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add your chopped mushrooms and fill your pot just shy of the top with cold water. Take your dried mushrooms and bay leaf and put it in a cloth soup bag and add the bag to your pot. Add your barley or rice, the remaining tablespoon of salt, parsley, thyme and black pepper. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, lower to a simmer and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.
This soup does not freeze well. It is best kept in the fridge so you can pull it out and use as you need it. It will last 7 days from the day it is made.
To make cooking the soup easier and less time consuming, try chopping your vegetables the day before and storing in a container in the refrigerator. This way the next day when you go to cook everything is ready to go.