Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Polish mushroom, onion and cabbage soup

This recipe is adapted from one on Anna Thomas' excellent website, The Vegetarian Epicure. Do try to get a good smoky paprika if possible - it really makes a difference.

3/4 cuppearl barley
3large onions
500 gportobello mushrooms
2 clovesgarlic
olive oil
3 teaspoonsfresh thyme leaves
1/4 cupdry sherry
6 cupsdilute vegetable stock
1small savoy cabbage
1 bunchgreen onions
1 bunchflat leaf parsley
1 teaspoonhot smoked paprika (picante pimentón), or piment d'esplette
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
sour cream or crumbly white farmers cheese, to serve

Put the pearl barley in a bowl and cover with boiling water, and leave to soak while you prepare the vegetables.

Peel the onions, then halve them and slice them thinly. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large high-sided frypan and saute the onions gently, with a generous grinding of salt, for at least 30 minutes, stirring often. The onions will soften and eventually turn golden brown.

Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms, halve them if large, and then slice quite thinly. Peel and chop the garlic. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan, then add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute for about 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are sizzling and brown. Add the thyme leaves and sherry, and stir until the sherry cooks away. Set aside the onions and the mushrooms for now.

Drain the barley, and place in a large saucepan with the stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until somewhat softened.

Quarter and slice the cabbage. Trim the green onions and chop the green parts into 1.5 cm lengths, and chop the parsley. Add the cabbage to the barley and stock, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Then add the green onions, parsley, onion and mushrooms, and simmer until the barley and cabbage are cooked, another 10-20 minutes. Add more water or stock if the soup becomes too thick.

Add the paprika, and lemon juice to taste, then season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream or some crumbled white farmers cheese.

Serves 8.

28 August 2003

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