Mushroom Barley Soup
6 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
4 cups very warm water
2 medium leeks – split and diced the white part only
3 T. unsalted butter
2 large carrots, peeled and diced into small pieces
1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms sliced
2 T. flour
8 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup pearl barley
Pour the warm water over the porcini mushrooms and let them soak for about 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan that is going to hold the soup. Add the carrots, onions and leeks. Saute until browned about 10 minutes on a medium heat. Once this is browned, add in the cremini mushrooms until they are thoroughly mixed in with the carrots, onions and leeks. Now, stir in the flour, constantly stirring for 5 minutes. This is the key to making the soup thick. Now, whisk in the chicken stock and increase the heat to high.
Strain the mushrooms from the soaking water with cheesecloth. You are going to use this mushroom water. I was out of cheesecloth so I used paper towels (about 6 of them). I just poured the mushrooms over the paper towels into another bowl. Then rinsed the mushrooms separately and chopped them up.
When the soup is boiling, add the mushroom water, the bay leaves and the chopped mushrooms. Bring to a boil and add the barley and bring the soup down to simmer, uncovered. Once the barley is tender, the soup is done. About 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a big hunk of bread.