This popular recipe for deli-style Mushroom Barley Soup with Flanken is easy, savory and comforting. It’s the ideal one pot entree for for a chilly afternoon.
As a California native now living in Los Angeles, I consider it the height of absurdity to complain about the weather. We are blessed with seriously mild seasons here, and I actually look forward to that little bit of winter that creeps up on us at this time of year. Just a wisp of cold wind, a smattering of rain– barely enough to justify lighting up the fireplace and putting a pot of soup on the stove. I welcome this bit of dreariness in the middle of our seemingly endless summer. This weekend here we are, a barely-rainstorm drizzling away outside, and I’m craving the comfort of a hot bowl of Mushroom Barley Soup.
I usually make this deli-style soup vegan style, but once in a while my family craves the extra savory heartiness of meat. A few short ribs turn this thick and wintery soup into a rib-sticking meal. Dried mushrooms add an extra infusion of mushroom goodness to the already flavorful broth. I always add lots of black pepper, too. The barley slowly cooks to a thick, almost creamy finish. So much savory goodness in a one-pot meal… just right for an almost-winter weekend. I might even light up the fireplace!
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Mushroom Barley Soup with Flanken
- 8 meaty short ribs (flanken), trimmed about 2 1/2 lbs
- 2 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil or more as needed
- 6 dried mushrooms
- 1 lb white mushrooms scrubbed and sliced
- 1 cup peeled and chopped carrots about 2-3 medium carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery, including leaves about 3-4 stalks
- 1 whole large onion chopped
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 3 quarts low sodium chicken, beef or mushroom stock
- 1 1/4 cups pearl barley
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
Rinse short ribs and pat dry. Generously salt and pepper them. With a knife, score the back side along the bone (this allows the meat to absorb more of the cooking liquid).
In a large stockpot, heat 2 tbsp olive or grapeseed oil over medium high heat. Add shortribs and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes on each side.
While the meat is browning, place dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 3 cups of hot water. Allow to soak for 20 minutes.
Once the meat has finished browning, remove and set aside. Add roughly half of the white mushrooms to the stockpot and brown over medium high heat. Remove and set aside.
Add remaining half of white mushrooms to the pan and brown, adding additional oil as needed. Add carrots, celery, onion and the rest of the browned mushrooms. Cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, then reduce the heat to medium.
By now the dried mushrooms will have softened. Drain the mushroom soaking water by straining it through a coffee filter or multiple layers of cheesecloth (use a mesh strainer or colander to hold the filter or cheesecloth) directly into the stockpot. Stir, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the liquid heats up. Give the soaked, softened mushrooms another quick rinse under running water to remove any remaining residue (wash carefully, grit can be hiding in the gills of the mushrooms). Chop the mushrooms into small pieces and add them to the stock pot.
Add the chicken, beef or mushroom stock, barley, bay leaves and seared short ribs to the stockpot. Stir to combine all ingredients. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow soup to cook, uncovered, for 2 hours or until the barley and short ribs are completely tender and the soup is nicely thickened. Add water during the simmer if the soup becomes overly thick. After cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste. I use about 1 1/2 tsp salt and a heaping 1/4 tsp pepper. Use whatever amount of seasoning tastes best for you.
Remove all of the short ribs from the soup and shred, then mix the meat back into the soup before serving. Alternatively you may serve whole short ribs on the bone, 1-2 per bowl of soup.