Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sausage and Barley

I love Cream of Mushroom Soup. However even though I’m very fond of cream, butter and all sorts of other yummy stuff, all the other recipes I found were essentially mushrooms floating in a cream and butter, and even I have my limits.

This recipe, however is more than a little surprising, since it uses only one cup of half-and-half, to make more than a gallon of soup. And at the same time has an intensely rich, deep, mushroom flavor, which is complimented beautifully by the sausage.

It’s great on a cold night, when served with and some nice crusty bread and a glass of wine.

Ingredients:
2 Pounds Assorted fresh mushrooms – White Button Mushrooms, Crimini (or whatever you happen to like), washed, hard stems removed and cut into 1/4″ slices.
1 Pound Sweet or Hot Italian Sausage Links
2/3 Cup Medium Barley
1 Large Yellow Onion, diced small
4 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
8 Ounces Half and Half
1/4 Cup Parsley, finely chopped
4 Cups Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
6 Cups Water
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  • Put the sausage links in a cold pan and cook on medium until browned on the bottom, then perforate the tops with a fork to let out the excess grease, then turn over and brown the other side.
  • Add a little oil to the bottom of a large pot. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute on medium-high until translucent. Don’t brown the onion, just cook until nice and soft. Add the garlic and saute until soft.
  • Remove the sausage when browned on the second side. Slice into 1/3 inch slices and save. Discard all the grease from the pan except for about 2 Tablespoons, and add half of the  mushrooms. Saute until soft, but not brown or shriveled
  • Put the sauteed mushrooms and the onion/garlic mixture in a blender. Add a small amount of water to the pan and deglaze the bottom (scrape up all the yummy brown bits). Add this liquid to the blender along with another cup of water (or however much it takes to make the mixture circulate in the blender).  Blend until completely smooth and return to the pot.
  • Add the rest of the water, the chicken stock, the remaining mushrooms, the sausage and the barley, and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook until the barley is soft (about an hour).
  • Mix the corn starch with enough cold water to make a smooth sluury. Stir into the soup and return to a gentle simmer.
  • Add the half-and-half, stir, turn off the heat and serve immediately, or refrigerate/freeze for later.
  • When reheating, do not boil.

About the soup: I love big flavors, however I’m unwilling to add the amount of fat that the traditional recipes use. I’m also not a big fan of “fake.” Cream of Mushroom soup should taste like cream and mushrooms, and this one does.

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