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Krupnic (Mushroom Barley) soup

A Krupnic soup would have been a staple in any Polish home, but in Jewish homes because of kosher dietary restrictions two different versions emerged, a parve one and a meaty one. The parve one was often served with sour cream. Once in America, this soup became a standard in Jewish Delis. Don’t be daunted by the number of steps here, the soup is huge and one pot will go a long way.

  • 3 liters chicken or vegetable stock, pulse extra at the end of the cook)
  • 200g (1 cup) pearl barley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 500 g (about 4 cups) white mushrooms, scrubbed and sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large saucepan add the stock, barley, bay leaves, and whole garlic and put them to boil while preparing the vegetables. Once the pot comes to a boil, cook on medium-low heat (the stock should be on a rolling low boil throughout this time) in a partially covered pot, until the barley is tender – this may take anywhere from one to two hours.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan and once hot add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and heat, once the oil is shimmering add the chopped onion and cook stirring often until the onion is soft and translucent about 5 minutes. Add the celery and cook until soft another 5 minutes. Add the carrots and keep cooking until all the vegetables are soft. Season well with salt and pepper, remove from the pan and add to the pot of cooked barley (if the barley isn’t finished cooking place the cooked vegetables in a bowl while you saute the mushrooms).
  3. Add more oil to the sauté pan and fry the mushrooms in a single layer until browned on one side, flip the mushroom over and brown on the second side season and add the fried mushrooms to the cooked vegetables, either in the pot or waiting dish, you will have to fry the mushrooms in two or three batches, don’t be tempted to fry them all at once as they will steam and not fry and get that lovely toasty flavor.
  4. Once the barley is tender add all the vegetables to the barley, add the thyme, add more stock if needed to cover all the vegetables by 2cm (1 inch), bring the soup back to a boil, lower to a simmer, and simmer covered for twenty minutes until all the flavors marry. Season to taste with salt and loads of freshly ground black pepper before serving.

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