Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms and Thyme

Serves 6

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ pound stew meat, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
12 ounces mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ cup canned diced tomatoes
2 quarts beef broth
½ cup pearl barley
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or soup kettle. Add meat, in two batches, and sauté until lightly browned. Add onions and carrots, and sauté until almost softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms and sauté until softened and liquid almost evaporates, 5 to 6 minutes longer. Add thyme and tomatoes, then beef broth and barley. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until barely is just tender, 45 to 50 minutes.

Stir in parsley and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve.

Mushroom Soup with Tarragon

Fresh Mushroom Soup with Tarragon

Serves 6

1 tablespoon butter
4 shallots, minced
6 cups minced cremini mushrooms
1 ¼ cups vegetable stock
1 ¼ cups 2% milk
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, melt the butter, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and cook gently for 3 minutes, stirring, until the mushroom release all their liquid and it begins to evaporate.

At this time, add the stock and milk. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the chopped tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave the soup to cool slightly then puree in a blender or food processor, in batches, until smooth.

Return to the rinsed saucepan and reheat slowly. Stir in the sherry. Ladle into warm soup bowls and serve.