Mushroom-Barley Soup with Kale

I loved every naughty thing I ate over the past few weeks, but after the glut of the holiday, I’ve been craving grains, greens, and simple whole food flavors. In the days following Christmas, my mind went straight to soup with a rich, clear broth that was loaded with healthy goodness. And this is the soup that came into my head. With help from Mom and one of her existing recipes, we made a meatless version of Beef Barley Soup.

Mushroom Barley Soup With Kale
Serves 6

If you don’t have time to soak the barley overnight simply bring 6 cups of water and 11/2 teaspoons of salt to boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add the barley, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered until just tender, about 40 minutes.

1 1/2 cups pearl barley
3 cups cooked barley (see page 00 for cooking instructions)
1/2 ounce dried mushrooms, chopped or broken into bite-size pieces
6 cups good quality vegetable broth, plus if water needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
12 ounces kale, stemmed, washed, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup red miso paste
Salt and ground black pepper

Soak barley in 4 cups of water for 6 hours or overnight. Drain and transfer to a large saucepan. Add 1 2/3 cup of water to the soaked barley and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until water is absorbed and barley is tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered for another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, microwave dried mushrooms and broth on high power until broth is hot and mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large soup kettle. Add onions; sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms; continue to sauté until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Add thyme and then hot broth, and barley; bring to a simmer. Add kale, and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue to simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until flavors blend and kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk in miso and water, if necessary, for desired thickness. Adjust seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste.