Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mushroom Barley Vegetable Soup, Multigrain English Muffin with Caponata, Baby Arugula with Pecan (Almost No Added Fat)

We are going through a cold winter spell, so barley soup sounded good. Hulled barley is supposed to cook in a 1:3 ratio of grain to water in 25m under pressure. Here is what I did:

  • Approx. 1 3/4 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" half moons; I, alternately, used a very large shallot that ended up being almost 2 cups
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 3/8" slices (approx. 1 3/4 cup)
  • Medium bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 1 3/4 cup)
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes cut into 3/4" cubes (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 cups mushroom (white or crimini, but oyster mushrooms would be a nice alternative) cut into 3/8" slices (about 6 ounces)
  • (Optional) 3/4 cup thinly (1/4") sliced celery
  • 3/4 cup hulled barley
  • (Optional) 1/8 cup French lentil. The only reason that this is in the ingredient list is that I had this small 1/8 cup of lentils that I wanted to use up, and I didn't think they'd substantially change the texture or taste, while contributing to the nutrition, of the soup. I otherwise wouldn't use lentils.
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 T miso
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2t fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 t salt or to taste

  1. I put all of the ingredients except the salt and lemon juice into my Instant Pot and cooked on high pressure for 25m. (Hulled barley usually cooks in a 1:3 ratio for 25m, but I used extra water to have a soup.)
  2. When the Instant Pot was done, I slowly released pressure, added the lemon juice, and tried the soup, adding salt as needed. I think that I actually used 1/4 t salt.
I also heated a multigrain English muffin and put a little caponata on top. I served baby arugula with golden raisins and just a little bit of pecan. Each half pecan is about a gram of fat; I used about 3 halves per dinner plate, so, with the little bit of caponata, I describe this meal as an almost no added fat one.


Dinner was great! The soup came out better than I had expected. The barley was cooked but more chewy than I would have liked it. The lentils were hidden - I couldn't detect their presence.

Ideas for the future

My Dad is visiting and he doesn't eat garlic. When I tried the soup after I opened the cooker, I thought it was good but could use a bit more flavor. I served him and then added 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. It would be better cooked into the soup, so I put the Instant Pot in medium sauté mode and cooked for 2 or 3 minutes. The garlic was good, but needed to be more pronounced, so I also added maybe 1/4 t garlic powder.

The consistency was good and closer to a stew than soup. I decided to cook the leftovers for 5 more minutes to cook the barley a bit more, and first added another 3/4 cup or so of water. The barley was still a little chewy - maybe 35m next time? The other vegetables might get too soft. I'd try maybe 32m.

I think that a little bit of red wine cooked into the soup would be good. My daughter had a great suggestion, that of adding lemon zest. So, this is what I would do next time to take a great soup and make it even better:

  • For more of a soup, I'd use 2  or 2 1/2 cups of water, and also add 1/4 or 1/2 cup of red wine
  • I'd add 3 or 4 cloves of finely diced garlic in at the beginning
  • I'd cook for 32m instead of 25m
  • I might add 1/4 t or so of lemon zest just before serving

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