After enduring heat almost all the way through November, the weather has finally turned cool and to celebrate I made my first pot of soup for the season.
As I mentioned in my other blog, I recently cleaned out my cupboards and upon evaluation of what was left I've decided to make it a goal to try and use up a bunch of the stuff I've just had hanging around. A box of quick cooking barley is what led me to this recipe. I was leafing through a collection of soups and stews that was compiled by, okay don't laugh, "Cooking Light" Magazine and I was struck by one recipe in particular that had a mixture of sausage, barley, shiitake and portobello mushrooms and BRANDY. I have to say I'm instantly intrigued by any recipe that has beer, wine or liquor in it.
I made a few adjustments to the recipe in the magazine and the results were hearty but not heavy with a nice rustic and woodsy flavor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 links (or so) of spicy Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings
1 cup chopped celery (maybe 2 or 3 stalks)
1 cup sliced carrots
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
5 cups shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup quick cooking barley
6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons brandy
salt and freshly grounnd pepper
In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Pinch off small chunks of the sausage into the pot and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the celery, carrot, garlic, the bay leaf and the thyme and cook for another 5 to 8 minuts, until the celery is soft.
Add the mushrooms and stir to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to color. Stir in the brandy, the chicken broth and the barley. With the pot uncovered, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat; cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the barley is tender. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in a small handful of chopped parsley and ladle into bowls.
Serves 4 generously