Recipes > Mushroom & Barley Soup

Mushroom & Barley Soup


Earthy porcini, button mushrooms and sage make up this exquisite soup.
  • Serves: 6
  • Active Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Views: 76,643
  • Success Rating: 96% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Cooking the Barley

Cooking the Barley
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups stock


To cook the barley, place it into a small pot along with the salt and stock. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook for about 30-35 minutes.

Step 2: Preparing the Mise en Place

Preparing the Mise en Place
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 5 to 6 shallots (about 1 cup, once minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 24 oz cremini or white mushrooms (10 cups, once sliced)
  • 4 to 5 sage leaves (1 tablespoon)


To rehydrate the mushrooms, place them into a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Set aside until softened, about 20 minutes.

While the mushrooms are soaking, finely mince the shallots, garlic and celery. Slice the mushrooms about 1/8" -inch thick. Lastly, finely chop the sage and set aside.

Step 3: Cooking the Soup

Cooking the Soup
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry to medium sherry
  • 3 1/2 cups stock


To cook the soup, heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil, followed by the shallots, garlic and celery. Sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened and translucent.

Next, add the white mushrooms, salt and pepper. Immediately turn up the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their juices and start to brown slightly. This should take about 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, check on the barley. Turn off the heat once tender. Keep covered and set aside to rest.

Once the dried mushrooms are soft and rehydrated, remove them from the liquid and strain through a sieve lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth. This will help to remove any grit. Make sure to reserve the mushroom liquid, as it will add even more flavor to the soup. Finely chop the rehydrated mushrooms and set aside.

Once the mushrooms in the pot begin to brown, don’t stir too often. To help them brown nicely, you want them be in direct contact with the surface of the pot.

Once the mushrooms are golden brown, turn the heat down to medium-high, and add the rehydrated mushrooms and garlic. Let this cook for about 30 seconds before deglazing with the sherry. Once almost all of the sherry has evaporated, sprinkle the mixture with flour. Stir in the flour and let cook for about a minute.

Next, add the reserved mushroom liquid and while stirring, add the stock. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, before reducing the heat. let the soup simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 4: Finishing the Soup

Finishing the Soup
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy sour cream (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup Cashew Cream (optional)**


To finish the soup, stir in the barley and sage. At this point, the soup is perfectly delicious (and healthy) to be served as is.

However, if a creamier mushroom soup is desired, temper in the sour cream with a bit of the hot soup. This will help it to blend evenly into the soup.

For an even creamier finish, you can add a touch of Cashew Cream, if you like.

Check the soup for seasoning and turn off the heat. Let it stand for a few minutes before serving.


  • Jenny G
    Jenny G
    It looks delicious ;)
  • Dee F
    Dee F
    This is a great soup on a cold day like today. It is so good. The best mushroom I have had. Thanks!
  • Donald D
    Donald D
    This soup has it all. Great flavour, wonderful texture & fun to make. I used an egg slicer to slice to mushrooms in no time flat.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    This soup is amazing and is a favorite at our house. Served with a light salad and some crusty bread, it makes a perfect dinner. I'm already looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch.
  • Judi G
    Judi G
    I took this to my sister's for lunch today and it was a huge hit... I did not have porcini but had dried shitaki mushrooms and also had to use up some portabello mushrooms as I didn't have enough button ones. I also had to substitute Marsala (I checked on line and it is a 'fortified wine') and it turned our really spectacular. I would make this again in an instant. And if it will tolerate all those changes, it must be pretty much bullet-proof. The barley is really wonderful and I had forgotten how filling and nourishing it is. Add a salad and some home made buns and it's fit for a king.
  • Bno S
    Bno S
    what can i use insted of the sherry ?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    You could simple omit the sherry (though it does add great flavor), or you could use Madeira, white wine, or a splash of port at the very end.
  • Jole C
    Jole C
    I've just eaten the soup: delicious. Thank you for he recipe!
  • Gavin K
    Gavin K
    Wish my palate could tell me what's different from the NY deli soup that I remember from growing up in Brooklyn the 60's, but this is as close as I've ever gotten to it!
  • Cathy R
    Cathy R
    I made this soup a few nights huge raves! This recipe is definitely a keeper! Even though the porcini mushrooms are expensive....treat yourself, its worth it! This soup could definitely be served in any fine 5-star restaurant!!!
  • Sharon S
    Sharon S
    I'm curious: The recipe calls for all purpose flour and sour cream. Is there any way to get around using all purpose flour and sour cream with out too much sacrifice? (Of course, i wont get the exact creaminess or thickness). I have friends who aren't lactose and gluten intolerant but try to avoid dairy and whole grains. Can you use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour or Soy yogurt instead of sour cream?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    I am sure you can substitute these ingredients, but I have not tried it myself, so I am not sure exactly what the result would be. You may just want to give it a try. You could also just leave out both the flour and the sour cream. The soup will be a bit thinner. Instead of barley, try quinoa or rice. These grains are gluten free and will help to thicken the soup a bit. The sour cream is just used to add richness and creaminess but it can also be left out. Perhaps once you make the soup, just take a bit out and try adding a bit of the soy yogurt to see if you like it and to make sure it doesn't curdle. Hope this helps!
  • Mary M
    Mary M
    This is a very yummy soup! It's not a quick one to put together, but it is worth it. I will decrease the amount of salt next time, though. It's bordering on too salty for me, and I like salt. Also, I may try blending a portion of the soup before I stir in the barley and sage next time. I like mushrooms, but maybe not as many per mouthful as this turns out to be. But it's very, very good, and I will definitley be making it again! Love the video, too. This is a great site!
  • Jeanne C
    Jeanne C
    Hi! Can I substitute Kosher salt with gray salt? If so, how much should I use? Thanks!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Yes you can substitute the kosher salt with gray salt. The amount is really up to you; how much salt you use is really a personal choice. I would say start with about half the amount and taste as you go. You might also want to watch the cooking school lesson on "How to Season with Salt", in particular topic 4. Cheers!
  • Brad K
    Brad K
    I didn't think this soup would be as good as it was... My old favourite mushroom soup was from the Seasonal Experience and I didn't think it could be beat. This soup is hands down the best mushroom soup me or my wife has ever had. Thank you rouxbe!
  • Alisa P
    Alisa P
    What a great soup! Thank you for the recipe. I substituted barley with lentils because I am not a barley fan, and what a great meal it was!!! My 6 years old son had 3 (!!!) plates and said he won't eat anything else from now on :))
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    I just happen to have all of the ingredients for this soup in my refrigerator the other night; however the mushrooms where already cut into quarters, so I decided to pulse them quickly (3 or 4 pulses) in the food processor before adding them to the soup. I also happened to have a mix of cooked wild mushrooms and I did the same thing with them. I think I used about 3 ounces of mixed wild mushrooms. I also had both button and crimini mushrooms, so I used those as well. I also threw in some extra celery at the beginning, to give the soup a bit more texture. Everything else was the same as the original recipe but the texture is what I really liked about this one. That and the fact that I was able to get the soup cooking in about 15 minutes. I would absolutely recommend using the food processor, just be sure you don't over pulse the mushrooms, as you want to maintain some of their texture. Cheers!
  • K A
    K A
    I never ate or used barley before , I always wanted so I decided to try it in this recipe and all what I can say is WoW. The soup is pretty amazing especially with a bit , just a bit of truffle oil it adds so much flavor .
  • Lori A
    Lori A
    Hi Sharon, for a non-dairy substitute for sour cream, you may be interested in goat Crème Fraîche made by Liberty (Liberté) in Quebec, Canada. It has 35% milk fat, is thicker than sour cream and less sour tasting. Goat yogurt is easier to find (also made by Liberté) but only has 2.7% milk fat. These products were hard to find, but finally my IGA grocer was able to order both them. *Note there is a cow-dairy product called Crème Fraîche too, it has a beige package and the goat one is blue. I never heard of soy yogurt but I've tried cooking with soy milk, tofu and cream. The Belsoy cream separated when I was trying to make a sauce; it curdled and destroyed the dish. For soups and thickeners I used to purée organic tofu (non-organic is subjected to high pesticides, my sister is a farmer). Tofu is flavourless but adds colour and thickness. Go Dairy Free ( has "Dairy Substitutes" on the left menu, then click on "sour cream." I tried one of the recipes and was surprised at how it remotely tasted like sour cream. But, it was used in a dessert and it separated after a day in the fridge. The lemon juice ran all over the bottom, soaking the crust and the filling caved in. From my experience, soy products just don't perform like animal dairy products do. Good luck.
  • Brenda H
    Brenda H
    I also made some adjustments to adapt to what I had on hand. Judi G I totally agree with you that this must be bullet proof. It turned out great. Question though, is this recipe with regular sour cream? And if so, would putting light sour cream in it make it not as thick?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    The thickness won't likely change if you use light sour cream as this soup is ultimately thickened by the roux and the added barley. Just be sure to temper in the sour cream if you are using one that is not full fat as it could split otherwise. Also, be sure you do not bring the soup to a boil after you add it as this could also cause it to split. Cheers!
  • Jeanette M
    Jeanette M
    My mushroom soups look muddy. The recipe suggests sauteeing the cut mushrooms to release the juices and brown them after sweating the onion, garlic, and shallots. Restaurant mushroom soups are much lighter in color and I'd like to achieve the same.
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    I think you will find the lesson on How to Make Roux-Based Soups very helpful. Topic 2 in particular talks about just this, it even uses mushroom soup as the example. Cheers!
  • Nancy R
    Nancy R
    I made this for dinner tonight, and it is now my new favorite soup! The best soup I've ever made! Thank you for the recipe! -Nancy PS My daughter is a vegetarian, and I assume I would be able to substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock when I make it for her.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    You absolutely can substitute veggie stock. Glad you enjoyed the soup! :)
  • Susan K
    Susan K
    I also made this soup yesterday it was delicious and even better today :-) Thank you again for the great lessons and recipes!
  • Michael D
    Michael D
    This is the best mushroom soup I've ever tasted. It's even better on Day Two!
  • Leslie W
    Leslie W
    What would be a good replacement to barley? My son is allergic to gluten. Also, is the sour cream essential or could I leave it out if we don't eat dairy?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    You can add any grain you like. Try adding quinoa maybe? See the lesson on "How to Cook Grains" for more ideas. And yes, you can leave out the sour cream. It is important to understand that recipes are merely guides. In almost every case you are free to make substitutions and tweaks. Cheers!
  • Wassim M
    Wassim M
    Mushrooms are my most favorite food group. This was amazing. I had THREE heaping bowls tonight with some crunchy French bread. Delicious! Looking forward to playing with the types of grain and mushrooms.
  • Grant B
    Grant B
    I made this mushroom soup last night and it turned out really tasty, even though I forgot the step to add the flour!!! Question for the group -- My largest burner has twice the BTU output of heat as the smallest burner. How does burner size/BTU correlate with instructions to use different heat levels such as high or medium high or even low heat?
  • Christophe K Rouxbe Staff
    Christophe K
    Good question. Instructions on heat are just like instructions on time it may take to cook something. They are only guidelines. This is why a lot of people struggle with following written recipes, because that is what they do, follow, without a proper understanding of what other measures they should look for - like a simmer, a certain crust on the food, a certain colour etc. Cooking forces you to use your senses. How do you develop your cooking senses? Learning through Rouxbe is the 1st step. Typically, in the instructions we may say, over low heat, over medium heat, yet we also (usually) give you another measure to visually look for, so you can use these as guidelines. However, guidelines need to be complemented by your increasing knowledge of what needs to happen in the pan, pot or oven. Ultimately, your understanding of cooking will overtake the guidelines. I know for me, the few times I have worked on electric stoves, none of my time/temperature guidelines worked with that source of heat. I had to trust my understanding of what I was actually looking for. Hope that helps.
  • Grant B
    Grant B
    Okay, thanks for the logical explanation. You're right about the instructional videos providing more clues to temperature requirements than just where to set the flame height. So I'll keep experimenting with different lesson recipes until I get it right. Like on the mushroom soup recipe I used to much heat because I set my know to high when cooking the mushrooms down. I also didn't quite have enough liquid for the Barley, it was slightly browned on the bottom at 30 minutes into cooking. and it was on my smallest burner at the lowest setting.
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    If you find that your smallest burner, set on the lowest heat, is still too hot, then you may want to consider buying a heat diffuser. Alternatively, there may be a way on your particular stove to adjust the heat. Cheers!
  • Grant B
    Grant B
    A heat diffuser did come with me stove top, I forgot all about it -- it's deep down in drawer somewhere. Thanks for the tip.
  • T. H
    T. H
    This soup looks amazing! Can I substitute something else for the flour, to make it gluten-free?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Here is a recipe for a gluten-free flour that you can use in place of the regular flour. Cheers!
  • Wassim M
    Wassim M
    It was even better the second time I made it last night. I tested my skills by loosely following the recipe by taste and it was excellent. Easy and delicious. Thanks Rouxbe!!!
  • T. H
    T. H
    Thanks, Dawn! Would using the gluten-free flour change the roux? Like, would it taste different? Would I need to keep a closer eye on it (because, say, it turns brown more quickly or something)?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    The roux will taste slightly different—not bad, just different; however, it will cook in a similar fashion. Cheers!
  • Marilyn
    Just made this soup, I could not find the dried mushrooms but went ahead with what I had. I used Marsala because of a previous post. Cut the mushrooms with egg cutter because of a previous post, great tip, tasted good, but needs more barley so I'm cooking another 1/2 cup right now.
  • Marilyn
    I like it with the extra barley, I wish I had some leftover steak, it would be great cut up in this soup, Next time!!
  • Liz K
    Liz K
    Made this for the first time for a guest at dinner last night. Wow! So flavorful!!!
  • Vanessa B
    Vanessa B
    I don't have dried mushrooms, I do have fresh cremini, and shiitake mushrooms. I will also swap barley for farro as I don't have any barley, I'm excited to make this tonight
  • Kathy T
    Kathy T
    Hi, can this soup be frozen? I'm trying to pick soups that I can freeze in single use portions for later meals. thx
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Kathy: You can freeze this. My one suggestion is to freeze the barley individually, then, re-heat the barley and soup together. It's a delicious soup. Happy " souping." Cheers, Char
  • Kathy T
    Kathy T
    Thanks Char! I don't think there will be any leftover to freeze! Soup was delicious. I used the simple mushroom stock and added the cashew cream. Amazing!
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Kathy: that happens frequently. I like to steam a bunch of vegetables, and pour the soup over the vegetables. The recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving. Glad you enjoyed it! Cheers, Char
  • Karen L
    Karen L
    When in the recipe is the best time to add garlic?
  • Demetra S Rouxbe Staff
    Demetra S
    Happy new year Karen. Thank you for the question. Best time to add the garlic is together with the shallots and celery in Step 3.
  • Anastasiya  M
    Anastasiya M
    I made this soup last night precisely following the recipe. The soup turned out to be too acidic due to a large amount of sherry. I am wondering what kind of sherry would you recommend to use. I used moderate to sweet , 1 cup as suggested in the recipe. I diluted it with coconut milk and will have to add may be more broth to reduce acid. Do you have any practical advice on how to reduce acidity and balance this soup?
  • Sandy S
    Sandy S
    Hi Anastasiya, That is curious! If the sherry is reduced (cooked down) to almost dry, most of the volatile acids should have evaporated with the liquid. Perhaps there was a bit too much left in the pan when you moved onto the next step. That being said, all of our palates are different, and if you find it too acidic, you can add less of the sherry next time to suit you. I hope that helps! Cheers, Sandy
  • Elaine R
    Elaine R
    I can’t find a sherry that states dry sherry. I can’t find it in the store or online?
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Hi Elaine, there are a number of different styles of dry sherry. Look for the following labels: Fino Sherry, Oloroso Sherry, Amontillado Sherry, Palo Cortado Sherry, or Manzanilla Sherry. Enjoy! ~Eric

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