Wild Mushroom, Chicken, and Barley Soup

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  6 servings
Prep Time:  25 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour 45 minutes

Wild Mushroom, Chicken, and Barley Soup

Simply satisfying winter comfort food that is literally a meal in a bowl.


¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly diced (1 to 1½ cups)  

2 shallots, peeled and roughly diced  

2 fresh bay leaves

6 thyme sprigs

1 teaspoon celery seed

1½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried mushroom powder

1 tablespoon dry mustard

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or grated, any green centers discarded

1 pound fresh exotic mushrooms such as hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, shiitake, maitake and/or oyster, divided   

4 large carrots, cut into ¼- to ½-inch rounds (about 1 cup)

1½ cups barley  

2½ quarts (10 cups) low-sodium chicken broth  

2 pounds chicken bones (wings and back bones from 2 chickens)

1 (6-ounce) package smoked chicken sausage, cut into ¼-inch rounds


  1. Heat a large, wide saucepan over high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and shallots, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  2. Place the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and celery seeds in a 9- by 13-inch piece of cheesecloth and tie into a packet. Add to the onion mixture. Add the salt, pepper, dried mushroom powder, and mustard, stir well, and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and stir again. Cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Measure about ½ cup of the mushrooms and cut into ¼-inch slices. Dice the rest. Add the mushrooms and carrots to the pot and stir. Add the chicken broth and stir. Wrap the chicken bones in a large sheet of cheesecloth and tie to make a packet. Add it to the pot and stir gently. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Add the barley and stir well. Cover and cook for  an additional 45 minutes. Add the sausage and stir well. Cook for about 20 minutes, until fully cooked and heated through. Remove the chicken bones and herb bundle. Serve immediately, or for even better flavor, cover, refrigerate overnight, and reheat to serve the next day. (The extra time lets the flavors develop; see Kitchen Tip.)

Kitchen Tips

This will keep very well, covered in the refrigerator, up to 4 days. It tastes even better after being refrigerated overnight. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

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