I'll be the first to admit it. This isn't an every-night soup. It's rich and (somewhat) labor intensive. The ingredient list is kind of long, and kind of expensive.

But it's also really good. Special occasion kind of good.

Rich. Indulgent. Intensely satisfying. Try it. You'll be happy you did.

Mushroom Barley Soup
Don't skimp on the homemade stock; it makes all the difference. Feel free to make the stock ahead of time and freeze it. That's my secret; I put up the stock when I have a quiet evening for simmering. Then I freeze it so this soup is a breeze to make.

6 cups homemade chicken or beef stock (follow these instructions to make a basic stock, but add a package of chicken bones or a cleaned chicken carcass from a roast chicken dinner)
1/2 cup dry white wine
a handful of dried mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound meat (I used sliced beef neck)
1 onion, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, cleaned and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
16 oz. fresh white button mushrooms
1 cup pearl barley

Warm the stock and wine in a medium pot. Add the dried mushrooms and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stock pot. (I used my Le Creuset.) Brown the beef on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Cook the onion on medium heat for 10 minutes or so, till translucent. Add the herbs and salt. Cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the mushrooms to the cooked onions and cook for about 10 minutes longer.

Put the browned meat into the stock pot. Add the stock and dried (now re-hydrated) mushrooms. Bring to a boil and then add the barley. Simmer for at least two hours (more is fine). Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days. Reheat before serving.

Linking this up to Melt in Your Mouth Monday and Mingle Monday.