Vegetarian Recipe: Two- Mushroom Barley Soup

Pretty much everybody could use some more vegetables in their diet.  The Andrew Weil food pyramid rests on a foundation of vegetables and fruits: 4-5 vegetables a day and 3-4 fruits a day.   

Many vegetarian recipes also include other important blocks in the food pyramid such as whole and cracked grains (3-5 a day) and beans and legumes (1-2 a day).  Vegetable based recipes contain lots of fiber and are vitamin packed.  They leave your body feeling nourished and full.  Fiber makes you stay full longer and highly nutritious meals help chase away cravings.  These are important factors in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and fueling your fitness routine. 

Your family may be less than enthusiastic about eating vegetarian dishes.   Here are some ideas:

1) Include them as a side dish at first and freeze the leftovers.  Members can say “yes” or “no” to a new recipe without throwing an entire meal out the window.

2)Serve the vegetarian dish as lunch.  P&J sandwiches can always save the day if the family doesn’t like it.

3)Make the dish for yourself, say for lunch, and freeze the leftovers for future lunches later in the month.  You can still use these dishes for your own weight loss/weight maintenance goals. 

Remember, it’s your love for your family and your desire to help them live healthy lives that is your motivation for bringing good eating habits into your family’s life.  Keep trying and keep modeling good choices.  I was a picky eater most of my childhood and then a light switched on for me.  I was able to draw on the past as I began pursuing a  healthy lifestyle.  As adults your children will be able to say, “This is what my mom used to do….”  Your labor is not in vain.

On to the recipe…

The following vegetarian dish comes from a book called “Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow- Cooker” by Robin Robertson.  This a great foray into vegetarian cooking because it is a bit meaty without meat.  It is a great cozy, snuggle by the fire soup, that will warm you up and nourish your body in this cold weather.  The recipe includes mushrooms which, according to the Weil food pyramid, are a block all by themselves because of their immune support, amongst other qualities.  And the barley fills you up with fiber.

Two Mushroom Barley Soup  (with permission from the Robin Robertson)

1 oz. dried mushrooms (I used portabella instead)

1T olive oil

1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped

l large carrot, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped (didn’t have any carrots on hand, so I doubled this)

1C pearl barley

8oz. white mushrooms, sliced

6C vegetable stock

1 1/2 t dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2T minced fresh chives for garnish (optional in my opinion, but tasty nonetheless)

Slow Cooker Size: 4 to 6 quart

Cook Time: 6 hours

Setting: Low

1.  Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof measuring cup and cover with hot water.  Let sit until softened.  Drain, straining and reserving 1/2 of the soaking liquid, thinly slice the mushrooms, and set aside.  (Since I used portabella mushrooms, I skipped this part and added the equivalent of water.  I was time pressed but it would be worth your money and time to get the mixed mushrooms for their nutritional value and taste.)

2.  Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

3.  Transfer the cooked vegetables to a 4- to 6- quart slow cooker.  Add the barley, both kinds of mushrooms, the stock, the reserved mushroom liquid, and thyme and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours.  Taste to adjust the seasonings before serving.  if a thinner soup is desired, add more stock.

4.  Serve garnished with the chives.

My family really enjoyed this recipe.  It will be repeated throughout the winter.  I have purchased mixed dried mushrooms from the Dekalb Farmer’s Market in Atlanta.  They bring a wonderful taste to a meal and they  have a  great nutritional impact.  I’m sure you can purchase them at Publix I was just time pressed and working out of my own pantry.

By the way, I tried to link to Amazon so readers could take a look at the recipe book and consider if they would like to purchase it.  Though WordPress will not allow me to do this, I told Robin I would let you all know that you CAN purchase the cookbook on Amazon. 

Enjoy!  And thank you Robin for allowing me to share the recipe with the readers!

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