Barley Soup with Mushrooms and Parsnips
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, peanut, or vegetable oil)
- 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and cleaned
- 8 ounces portobello or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 cup pearl barley
- 3/4 cup light-flavored beer
- 6 cups vegetable stock or water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until just beginning to brown and release their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes.
Stir in the carrot and parsnip. Turn the heat up to medium-high, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the barley, then pour in the beer and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is reduced by half.
Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then stir in the salt. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the barley is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Stir in the pepper and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve hot.