Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushrooms For Soup

Has the term “comfort food” become a cliché?  Perhaps, but if so, long live the cliché, especially when it comes to Mushroom Barley Soup.  With its rich flavor, thick consistency, and satisfying essence this soup is the epitome of comfort food.  It’s especially comforting on chilly, windy nights.  I make this recipe in a large batch  and then I freeze half of it in quart-sized bags to have handy for a last-minute dinner option.  I have adapted this recipe from a cooking class (Taste of Tradition) I took about 15 years ago.

Click on my video below for step by step instructions for making perfect Mushroom Barley Soup:

 Mushroom Barley Soup

  • 1 cup dried mushrooms of your choice
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 large onions sliced
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh mushrooms (a combination of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 cups barley


Soak dried mushroom in warm water while proceeding with the following steps:

Melt the margarine in a large skillet and saute the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and 1/2 of the parsley.  After 5 minutes add the fresh mushrooms.  Stir and allow them to cook down for about 8 minutes.  Add the flour and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens.

Bring the 4 quarts of vegetarian or chicken stock to a boil in a large soup pot.  gradually add the mushroom mixture to the soup and stir after each addition.

Strain and chop the dried mushrooms and reserve the water in which they soaked.

When soup boils add chopped dried mushrooms along with the water in which they soaked.  Then add the barley.

Simmer covered for 45 minutes to an hour or until barley is tender and the soup has thickened.

Add the remaining parsley, stir and check for further seasoning.


Serves 20

Passover Chocolate Torte…For Valentine’s Day!

Passover Chocolate Torte

Valentine’s Day is important and meaningful to me and to our family for one reason alone.  Alex, our daughter, and  first of five children, was born on that day!   I had been due to give birth on February 5, 1980.   But Alex was in no hurry.  It was now nearly midnight on  February 12, 1980, and I would be in labor for the next 25 hours.  Alex, my beautiful daughter was born at 12:52 a.m. February 14, 1980, fulfilling all of my dreams to be a mommy.  They brought my little girl to me in a bassinet filled with hearts, and my heart melted as I held my daughter for the first time.

What does all of this have to do with Chocolate Torte you might be wondering.  Well, In 1987, the PTA of Sinai Akiba Academy, the Jewish Day School Alex attended, published a Passover cookbook called Pesach Potpourri which was filled with Passover recipes.  In the cookbook there was a recipe for a Chocolate Torte by Linda G. Mayman, that became Alex’s favorite cake.  When Alex was about ten she started requesting the Torte for her birthday cake.  So every year my Valentine’s girl gets a Passover Chocolate Torte in the shape of a heart.  Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe here and there, and that is the version I give you here.

Click on the video below for the step by step recipe:

Chocolate Nut Torte

  • 3/4 cup almonds
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 9 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted margarine unsalted (room temperature, cut in pieces)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Grease a heart-shaped or round 9 inch cake pan and line the bottom and sides with a piece of parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a food processor grind the nuts together with the sugar until fine.  Add the potato starch to the food processor and pulse a bit to mix it in with the nut mixture.  Remove to a bowl.

In a small saucepan over very low heat, slowly melt the chocolate, coffee granules, brandy and water, stirring until smooth.  Separate the 4 eggs while keeping an eye on the chocolate mixture.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the egg yolks.  Return the pan to low heat and stir in the margarine, a few pieces at a time.  Stir until melted, then add the nut mixture and stir until it is melted in.

Beat egg whites with dash of salt until soft peaks form.  Slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar, and continue to beat until stiff.

Stir a dollop of egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest.  Pour into the cake pan and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool.

Once cool you may freeze the cake or refrigerate it for up to 2 days.  Before serving the cake frost it with the following Chocolate Glaze:

Chocolate Nut Torte Glaze

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 -2 tablespoons coffee (to your liking)
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • Slivered Almonds for garnish

Stir the chocolate and the coffee in a small saucepan over low heat and add the margarine.  Once all of the ingredients are mixed and melted remove from heat.  Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes and then you may glaze the Torte provided that the Torte has cooled down to room temperature.

Serves 12 – 16