Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

Serves 20 bowls
large, heavy-bottomed pot
Prep time
Cook Time

This is one of my favorite soups.  My mom usually makes it as an appetizer at Thanksgiving, without the beef… in that case, it’s Mushroom Barley Soup.  It pairs so beautifully with my sausage stuffed mushrooms, you could forget all about the turkey.  This year, we skipped the soup, and I made it following Christmas instead.  I added the leftover rib roast from Christmas and called it “dinner.”  Soup represents, to me, the magic of cooking.  It’s as close as you can come to making something fantastic out of next to nothing (water, salt, seasoning, a few humble vegetables, leftover meat, and dried grain), and that something will fill your kitchen with warmth and aroma and happiness like you wouldn’t believe.  I challenge you to try it and tell me it’s not magic.



  • 6 Cups
    beef stock
  • 2 Cups
    pearled barley
  • 4
    cubes porcini mushroom or beef boullion
  • 4
    quarts water
  • 8 Tablespoons
    unsalted butter
  • 1
    large bunch fresh tarragon
  • 1
    large bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 4
  • 4
    medium sized onions
  • 4
    stalks celery
  • 2
    packs button mushrooms
  • 1
    package dehydrated oyster mushrooms
  • 3/4 Cups


  1. Prepare your barley: boil your six cups of beef stock (alternatively, you can use any kind of stock, water, or boullion dissolved into water) and add the two cups of barley. Barley cooks like rice: keep on a slow boil or simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, and the grain is chewy but not hard.

  2. Hydrate dried mushrooms by letting them soak in boiling water or broth/stock. You can use any kind of mushrooms you like: here, I used oyster shrooms. Sometimes, I use all fresh mushrooms, whatever I have on hand or whatever they have at the grocery, on sale. You can use cremini, shitake, porcini, oyster, button, whatever. They're all good. Use a combination for the most nuanced flavor. Strain and drain off liquid when the dried shrooms have plumped.

  3. Prepare your mirepoix: peel and dice your carrots, onions and celery.

  4. Wash, dry and chop parsley and tarragon. Tarragon is the secret ingredient in this dish! It brings out the mystery in the mushrooms.

  5. Melt butter in the bottom of your large soup pot over medium heat.

    Note for later: keep the heat on medium throughout, unless the soup needs a little boost to get it to boil once all of the liquid has been added, later. Once your soup comes to a boil, reduce to simmer or turn heat off.

  6. Add mirepoix (diced carrots, onion and celery) to the butter and stir until the veggies are tender.

  7. Add brandy, stir until the alcohol cooks off.

  8. Add porcini mushroom boullion (or any boullion or stock you like) with water and stir to dissolve boullion. I love porcini boullion but it's hard to find. I usually buy a case of it on Amazon at Christmastime because it's an excellent stocking stuffer for your favorite cooks and there is plenty left to stash away for the rest of the year.

  9. Using a damp paper towel, wipe your mushrooms clean and thinly slice them.

  10. Add sliced mushrooms to soup, along with tarragon and parsley.

  11. After you have strained the reconstituted mushrooms, slice and add to soup.

  12. Trim and cut cooked roast beef into bite sized cubes, and add to soup. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.

  13. Keep barley separate, so that it doesn't become bloated and soak up all of the broth.

  14. Serve with a scoop of barley, a scoop of soup, and some crusty bread. Enjoy!

Nutrition: It's the perfect combination of fragrant, chewy, silky, and let's face it, just plain magic in your mouth, and it packs a healthy punch too!


  1. Paula Kelly


    I also make a Beef Mushroom Barley Soup that Makes my daughter Emily swoon! Would love to challenge you to a cook-off! But if truth be told, you would totally rock the “shoes” category!

    • Dorothea Lindquist


      And YOU are rocking the “daughters I adore” category <3 YES to family cook-a-thon!! We must make this happen! XO

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