Mushroom Barley Soup with Spices

Mushroom Barley SoupIf you listen to the seasons, they will guide your tastes. Last night, I magically cooked up this mushroom barley soup. It was just what I needed for the chilly cold evening. Cold evenings bring back the fondest memories of creamy, nourishing mushroom barley soup. The kind I used to savor at lunchtime when I worked at the Lower East Side. Alphabet city to be specific. This was some twenty years ago, just when the neighborhood was beginning to get its hip on.  I have been wanting to get back there one of these days, time just has not permitted.

However, last night I set about creating soup, a mushroom barley soup with loads of veggies. Carrots and turnips. I wanted to add a good amount of heft to the  seasonings. I wanted a little bite without overwhelming the flavors. This is where I turn to the poblano pepper, a flavorful pepper that gives you a nice lift of bite.  Other than that, I added in some bay leaves and cinnamon while cooking, allowing me to infuse some character to this satisfying soup. The resulting soup was on the thinner side, but chunky and rich tasting.

Mushroom Barley Soup

With experimental cooking like this, there are experiments, that are good for the day and then there are keepers. The keepers are usually determined by the others in the house, depending on feedback. With my son it is often how frequently he asks me to make something again. With my husband I can tell when he reaches out for the dish himself without any persuasion on my part. Indeed, the leftovers were polished off this afternoon at lunchtime. Today was a peaceful Saturday after a long time. I spent most of the day at home, my daughter was out and Aadi was at home with me.  The success of the day is often measured by my culinary escapades, which were all successful. I ended up making this in my instant pot, and learnt to cut down the oil used for the recipe.

Mushroom Barley Soup with Spices

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

A well seasoned take on a mushroom barley soup, guaranteed to banish your winter chills.


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium sized onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small turnips peeled and diced
  • 30 medium button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • ¾ cup pearl barley
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 large stick cinnamon
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • Cilantro and Crushed Red Pepper to finish


  1. Turn the instant pot to saute and add in the cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to sizzle, add in the onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the poblano pepper and tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes,
  3. Add in the carrots, turnips and the mushrooms and saute well for 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the barley, water, salt, cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
  5. Stir in the thyme. Cover and cook under pressure for 20 minutes.
  6. Let the steam release naturally.
  7. Serve in bowls garnished with cilantro and crushed red pepper.







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