Monday, September 16, 2019

Very simple mushroom barley soup

I grew up with my mother's mushroom barley soup, made with stewing beef and dried mushrooms. I've made it a few times myself, and it is definitely a wonderful soup, but it's a fair amount of work, and if I'm putting that in, I'd rather make cabbage soup or chicken soup. A few years ago, I was visiting my friend Sharon, and she served mushroom barley soup.  It was great, and I didn't believe her when she said it was super simple. But you'll see from the recipe below that it's true.  Now, because it is so simple, every time I've looked at the recipe since, I haven't made it, because it looks too simple to match my memory of how good it was.  Then yesterday, we wanted to bring dinner over to a friend who is out of commission with a leg injury, and she had suggested soup.  I was feeling out of it myself, having not had enough sleep the night before, but David volunteered to make the soup and bring it over. I picked out several recipes for him as possibilities, and he chose this one. And yes, it really is delicious! With a salad and maybe some bread, it definitely makes a nice meal.

mushroom barley souP
from Sharon Quintenz

1/2 cup raw pearled barley
7 cups stock (vegetarian, beef, chicken, or a mixture of beef & chicken)
1 heaping cup chopped onions (a little more is fine)
2 cloves minced garlic
3 T. butter
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
3-4 T. soy sauce (if Tamari, 3; if something like Kikkoman, 4))
6 T. dry sherry (you can use as few as 3 T and as much as 8 T)
fresh ground pepper

Cook barley in 1-1/2 cups stock until tender, about 25 minutes.  Add remaining stock, soy sauce, and sherry. While the barley is cooking, sauté the onions and garlic in the butter. When onions are soft, add the mushrooms. When the mushrooms are cooked down, add to the barley and stock mixture. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes on low heat. Add pepper as needed.

The soup is delicious immediately, and the flavor also improves if left in the refrigerator overnight.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Tomato season!

This recipe is from Beth Case. David and I met the Case family on our trip to Croatia in 2017. We visited them last summer at their place in Montana. They have a huge garden, and we enjoyed the fruit of it, including a delicious tomato sauce on homemade pizza. Beth has a super easy method for the sauce--you just put halved tomatoes in a deep roasting pan with garlic and fresh basil, roast for a couple of hours, and then blend. My own tomato plants are producing abundantly right now, so I turned again to this recipe. This time I added in a sliced onion and a sprinkling of the dried herbs I would use in a simmered sauce: oregano, parsley, and crushed red pepper. If you don't have fresh herbs, you can substitute a heaping teaspoon of basil and parsley. The photo above is everything in the pan, about to go into the oven. You don't need to line the pan with aluminum foil--I just did that because my roasting pan is a little crusty.

No need to peel the tomatoes. Once the cooked sauce has been blended, there is no trace of the skins.


fresh tomatoes, enough to fill a roasting pan, stem end cut out, and tomatoes cut into halves  (or thirds or quarters if tomatoes are very large)
a handful of fresh basil (or a heaping t. of dried if you don't have fresh)
a handful of fresh parsley (or a heating t. of dried)
a few cloves of garlic, cut in half
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1 sliced onion (optional)
1 6-oz can of tomato paste

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Put the onion, garlic, herbs, and spices on the bottom of the roasting pan. (In the photo above, you see all this on top of the tomatoes. The basil dried out in the roasting, though, so next time I'll put all this on the bottom.)
3) Put the tomatoes on top.  Roast for one hour. Add the tomato paste to the sauce--drop spoonfuls around the pan and then stir a bit to blend in.  Roast for another hour.

4) Transfer sauce to a large bowl or pot and blend with an immersion blender.  

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Spiced Chickpeas with Peppers and Tomatoes

My garden is now producing lots of delicious tomatoes, so this recipe caught my eye as a way to use a couple. I cook frequently with garbanzo beans, but this looked different enough to be worth trying.  And I like sheet pan recipes—everything cooked in the oven with little fuss.
The name of the original recipe was "Crispy Spiced Chickpeas. . ." My chickpeas didn't get crispy, even with a somewhat extended cooking time; I was afraid to go longer, not wanting them to dry out, but I might try longer next time.  David and I both enjoyed this; it would be a nice dish for guests when I need something vegetarian.
adapted from:
about 5 servings

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
½ cup olive oil (divided)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 fresh thyme sprigs (or equivalent in dried thyme)
2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers (or a combination), stems and seeds removed, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
2 medium tomatoes, diced (cherry tomatoes would also be good)
1 small red onion, sliced thin, and then cut into half-moons
2 jalapeños, stem and seeds removed, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, finely grated or mashed to a paste
1 cup fresh herbs (any combination of parsley, cilantro, mint or dill)
      brown or white rice or couscous
      plain yogurt (I use non-fat)

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees and arrange racks on the top and bottom thirds of the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, toss chickpeas with 2 tablespoons oil, the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt until evenly coated. Spread onto a rimmed sheet pan in a single layer and top with 3 thyme sprigs (or a dash of dried thyme).
  3. On a second sheet pan, combine bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, jalapeños and remaining thyme sprigs (or dash of dried thyme) with 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread vegetables into one layer.
  4. Place chickpea pan on the bottom rack and vegetables on the top rack and roast for 10 minutes. Switch pan positions. Roast chickpeas until crisped [maybe] but still tender, about another 10 minutes, and roast vegetables until golden brown, about 15 minutes. If the vegetables are tender but not browned, place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize. (Even with some time under the broiler, my veggies didn't caramelize, but they were delicious as is.) Discard thyme sprigs.
  5. While the chickpeas and vegetables roast, whisk lemon juice, garlic and remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Arrange vegetables on a large platter and drizzle with half the dressing, then top with crispy chickpeas and fresh herbs. Drizzle remaining dressing over everything. Serve with couscous or rice, along with plain yogurt and a chutney of your choice.