What could be better than a bowl of hearty, steaming soup on a rainy or stormy day? In my book, nothing touches the comfort soup delivers when the weatherman decides to give us the shivers. Soup is so nurturing. It’s TLC in a bowl. Far different from the traditional Mushroom Barley Soup, this recipe came about from ingredients I happened to have on hand at the end of the week.
Not only is this soup delicious, it’s also enriched with a generous quantity of almond butter
that doles out the serving size recommended in many health studies, about 1 to 1.5 ounces per person. The recipe contains no added fat to add pounds or raise cholesterol and provides an abundance of soluble fiber provided by the barley. All in all, this tasty soup is a winner for everyone and especially for anyone trying to lower cholesterol.
MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP WITH EGGPLANT AND ALMOND BUTTER
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
8 cups water, divided
1 cup pearl barley or pressed barley
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems discarded
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1 parsnip, sliced
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1-inch piece ginger, minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup almond butter
1/2 to 1 pound firm or extra firm tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
2 green onions, sliced
1. Combine 3 cups the water, barley and salt in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam for about 50 to 55 minutes, or until the barley is softened and the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
2. In an 8 to 10-quart stockpot, combine the remaining 5 cups water, eggplant, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, tomato, parsnip, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add the almond butter and stir in with a wire whisk until fully incorporated. Add the tofu and cook briefly.
4. To serve, spoon a generous portion of the barley into each bowl and ladle the soup over the barley. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of sliced green onions and savor every warming spoonful.
Note: If you relish your winter soup with a little heat, zap it with 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, minced, or use a pinch or two of cayenne pepper.