Mushroom-Barley Soup

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

We used to enjoy the most wonderful mushroom barley soup at a wonderful restaurant in Houston called Alfred’s Delicatessen.  Not sure if it’s still in operation or not, as I’ve been gone from the area for over 10 years now. This soup, bar none, was  THE best mushroom soup I’ve ever eaten!!  I don’t know what type of stock they used as the base.  All I know as it was GOOD!  We ordered it every time we went in the place…..along with their delicious hot pastrami sandwiches.  The above is my attempt at copying that wonderful gastronomic experience.  It was close, but my stock wasn’t as rich I don’t think.  Next time I’ll increase the meat broth and reduce the water by that amount, but 1 c. beef stock was all I had in the freezer.  But this was still very good and I will definitely make it again!  This is not suitable until the grains (final) rung of the Atkins OWL ladder as it has barley in it.  Sadly, barley is very high in carbs and I can’t afford to add that many carb to increase the amount in this soup.  But it swells up and give enough of the flavor to make it very good.  I used an 8 qt. Mirro pressure cooker to cook this soup in just 20 minutes once the cooker came to pressure (which took about 8-10 min).  I just LOVE cooking soups up FAST with a pressure cooker!!  If you don’t own one, this is going to take you about 1½ hours to cook in a conventional stew pot in order for the barley to get totally done.  Mine above is shown with my Rosemary Onion Almond Thins, recipe found here:


1 large beef bone (I actually used a pork shoulder bone that had exactly 1# meat on it.  But I’m not Jewish or Muslim and eat pork often.)

3 oz. onion, chopped

1 c. celery, chopped

12 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped not too much

1 c. meat stock of your choice (I just happened to have some beef broth in my freezer)

2½ qts. water

¼ c. pearl barley (NOT the instant stuff!)

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. onion powder

1 c. heavy cream

Sprinkle of cayenne or paprika (optional, for garnish)

Xanthan or guar gum to thicken (about 1/2 tsp.)

DIRECTIONS:  Place leftover bone in pressure cooker.  Add all but the last 3 ingredients listed above to the pot.  Seal the lid on the pressure cooker and on high heat, bring to pressure, which will take about 8-10 minutes.  When knob begins to rock quite vigorously releasing steam, lower heat slightly until the knob just rocks gently.  Cook for exactly 20 minutes after lowering heat.  Remove cooker to over your sink, run cold water over cooker lid to release pressure faster.  CAUTION:  Avoid leaning over the cooker while pressure is releasing under the water flow.  I turn my head away.  When vent button goes down, open the cooker and remove the bone to a cutting board to cool enough to handle.  Cut all meat from the bone (discarding fat and gristle) and chop.  Add meat back to the pot. Add cream.  Turn on heat and simmer low as you sprinkle xanthan gum (or your preferred thickener) over the surface of the soup, stirring it in immediately. Wait a couple minutes and add more thickener, as needed (I had to add it 4-5 times) until it is the thickness you like.  Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne pepper on top.  Serve with your favorite low-carb crackers or bread.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Calculated on 6 servings (about 1½ c. each), each contains:

292 calories

16.05 g  fat

12.22 g  carbs, 2.68 g  fiber, 9.54 g  NET CARBS (would go up to 14.7 NC if you doubled the barley!)

24.88 g  protein

443 mg sodium

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