Mushrooms are pretty amazing little things. We used to think they were mostly just water and, beyond being pretty tasty, didn’t do much for nutrition. However, more recent research is pointing to mushrooms, even plain little white button mushrooms, being nutritional powerhouses, helpful with everything from diabetes, heart disease, to cancer and obesity. They may even help boost your vitamin D and immune system. Besides all that, they lend a certain earthy, meaty quality to foods that is tough to find in other non-meat sources.
One of my favorite ways to eat mushrooms as it gets cooler is mushroom barley soup. Whenever there’s a bit of a crispness to the air outside, I start thinking more and more about soups and stews and mushroom barley is right at the top of the list when it comes to fall comfort foods. This recipe is adapted from a crockpot recipe I’ve used for years, but there were a few tweaks I needed to make to the original to make it fit a Whole Foods Plant Based diet.
For one, I used low sodium vegetable broth and water for the base of my soup rather than full sodium broth. I also swapped out the usual pearled barley and went with a parboiled variety that has a short cooking time but is still a whole grain. I also decreased the amount of barley and instead tossed in twice as many mushrooms. The result is a soup that stays true to the original earthiness but is a lot lighter in sodium and heavier in fiber. If you are new to eating a low sodium diet, you may want to add some salt at the table to taste…it can take a bit to taper off salt at first, particularly in soups!
I would recommend serving this with a big green salad and, unless you’re keeping your carbohydrates low, some crusty whole grain bread.
Mushroom Barley Soup
1 4 cup package of low sodium vegetable or mushroom stock
2 containers white button mushrooms, sliced
2 containers cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 sweet onion, diced or 3 shallots, minced
2 Tablespoons dried thyme leaves
Black pepper to taste
6 cups water
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups parboiled barley or, in a pinch, pearled barley
This is a really simple soup to toss together. Simply put all the ingredients in a pot and cook until the vegetables and barley are tender. You could also put this in your crockpot on low and just leave it all day and come home to a house that smells delicious and a warm pot of soup!