Mushroom Barley Soup (Zupa Grzybowa)

>> Saturday, March 11, 2017

Now that we live in a heavily Polish neighborhood of Chicago (Jefferson Park/Portage Park), we're trying to learn about traditional dishes. One of the most exciting Polish traditions is the paczki (PUNCH-key), a heavenly jam-filled donut you see everywhere at the beginning of Lent. This soup is another popular one - and we'll be learning how to make Dill Pickle Soup soon. 

Mushroom Barley soup is a classic Polish dish using barley grain, dried or fresh mushrooms, and sometimes a dollop of sour cream. In Polish, it is called Zupa Grzybowa, and its filling, healthy, and satisfying. The soup can be made quickly, or it can slowly simmer all day in a crock pot. Either method is flavorful, hearty, and easy. Add some cornbread, hot crusty bread, or a salad for a solid filling meal.

We recommend using a several kinds of fresh mushrooms for maximum flavor. The soup can be made with vegetable broth for a Meatless Monday or a fasting holiday, or it can be made with beef stock for extra flavor.


2 tbsp oil 
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1 cup chopped portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced shiitake or porcini mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 cups vegetable or beef stock
1 cup pearl barley or quick-cooking barley (use quick-cooking barley if you're going to make this in a crock pot)
1 1/2 cups sour cream (optional)


Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add onions and mushrooms and fry until slightly browned, about 10 or 15 minutes. 

If using a crock pot, transfer to the crock pot, add the rest of the vegetables and the beef stock and cook at low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat at 4-6 hours. Fifteen minutes before serving, cook the quick-cooking barley separately according to package directions, then stir into the soup. 

If cooking in a soup pot, add the rest of the vegetables and the beef stock and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the pearl barley and simmer for 30 more minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Remove the bay leaf. Serve in bowls with a dollop of room-temperature sour cream, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

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