Thursday, October 19, 2006


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This is from the lovely book "Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen" (Broadway Books, NY, 2006). I veganized it, using blended raw cashews and nondairy milk instead of sour cream; lowered the fat from 5 Tbs to 2 Tbs, and used some veggie broth instead of just water, for fuller flavor; and streamlined the recipe for busy cooks by doing some of the sauteeing and steaming in the microwave. I also used the whole leek, not just the white part, because I really like the green part, and it's so pretty!

It is a beautiful and delicious soup, full of fiber and different textures -- creamy from the blended barley, vegetables, and "cream", and chewy from the whole cooked barley, strips of leek, and sauteed mushrooms. It's also quite inexpensive.

The Soup:
1/3 cup barley (I used pot barley, but pearl is fine)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large leek, white part diced and rinsed (save green part for the "To Finish" part below)
1 large carrot, scrubbed and grated
1 large clove garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken-style vegetarian broth
2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
The "Cream":
3/4 cup plain nondairy milk, heated
1/4 cup raw cashews
To Finish:
1/3 cup barley (I used pot barley, but pearl is fine)
the green part of the leek used above in the soup, trimmed, julienned, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs (3 tsp) Earth Balance
6 large mushrooms, thinly sliced (DB recommended fresh shiitakes, but I didn't have any, so I used large white mushrooms)

Cover the first 1/3 cup barley (for the soup) with boiling water and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

Drizzle the olive oil in a microwave-safe casserole with a cover and add the onions and oregano, stirring lightly. Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Add the diced leek (white part only), chopped garlic, and grated carrot. Cover and microwave 4 minutes more. (If you don't have a microwave, steam-fry the veggies in a non-stick skillet over high heat: just use a spray of oil from a pump-sprayer and keep the vegetables moving, adding a squirt of water every so often until tender but not brown—- just enough to keep the veggies from sticking, not enough to “stew” them.)

Drain the barley and add to a medium soup pot along with the cooked vegetables, salt, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

While the soup cooks, prepare the finishing ingredients:
Rinse the remaining 1/3 cup barley, drain and cover generously with water in a small covered saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. When it is cooked, drain the barley in a small sieve, then return it to the pot, cover and set aside (off heat).

Place 1 tsp. Earth Balance in the microwave-safe covered casserole, which you have rinsed out, and add the slivered leek greens. Microwave covered at full power 2 minutes, then uncover, stir, and microwave 2 minutes more. Set aside.  (If you don't have a microwave, steam-fry the leek greens in a non-stick skillet over high heat: add the Earth Balance and keep the vegetables moving, adding a squirt of water every so often until tender but not brown— just enough to keep the veggies from sticking, not enough to “stew” them.)

Add the remaining 2 tsp. Earth Balance to a large nonstick skillet. When hot, add the sliced mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Sauté at high heat, not leaving the stove, until the bottoms of the mushrooms start to brown. Add a splash of water now and then just to prevent dryness and keep the mushrooms moving, but not too much. Cook until the mushrooms are browned on both sides. Set aside.

Before serving:
Blend the "cream" ingredients in a blender until smooth. It helps to make the cashews creamy if the nondairy milk is hot when you blend it, but leave the removable center of the blender lid off and cover it with a folded tea towel while blending, to prevent the hot steam from causing an explosion!

When the soup has cooked for 30 minutes, puree the soup with the "cream" until very smooth. I used a hand immersion blender right in the pot. If you have to use a blender, follow the directions in the paragraph above, to avoid explosions of hot liquid, and you may have to do it in two batches.Taste for salt and add freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

To serve:
Ladle the soup into attractive bowls. Top each bowl with a couple of tablespoons of the cooked barley, a few golden mushrooms, and a little pile of the leek greens. Serve with a pepper grinder on the side.

Servings: 5

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 260.9 calories; 31% calories from fat; 9.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 360.2mg sodium; 537.7mg potassium; 39.7g carbohydrates; 7.4g fiber; 7.4g sugar; 32.3g net carbs; 7.7g protein; 5.2 points.

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Jackie said...

Wonderful recipe, must try it even though it's summer here as I love barley soups.

Logan is very cute :)

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm, seems to me I can't go wrong with this soup as I Love barley, mushrooms and leeks :)

It's really beautiful too !

dollydlux said...

I didn't get my password! My email was down for a few weeks but it has been fixed. Can you send it out again to me? What info do you need?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Dolly, you need to email me your real name and email address at, which is the Vegan Feast contact email. There were a couple of people whose emails bounced back, but I can't tell which one is you!