Mushroom & barley soup by Jane Lawson

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Serves 4-6

210 g pearl barley
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large brown onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
400 g field mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
a few slices of dried porcini (cep) mushroom, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig, leaves finely chopped
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 whole pickled herring (about 100 g), soaked in cold water for 1 hour, or 2 anchovies, very finely chopped
2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) veal or chicken stock
1 large floury potato, finely diced

Pickled mushroom cream
100 g button mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
125 g (½ cup) sour cream
a small handful of dill, chopped
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Thoroughly rinse the barley, then soak in water overnight. Drain well.

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Add the field mushrooms and garlic, stir to combine, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have wilted. Add the crumbled dried mushroom, bay leaf, thyme, allspice, white pepper and herring and stir to combine. Add the stock and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook for 30 minutes, then add the barley and potato. Bring to the boil again, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, to make the pickled mushroom cream, combine the chopped mushrooms, vinegar, garlic, white pepper and a couple of large pinches of salt. Set aside for 1 hour to allow the flavours to develop. Combine the mushroom mixture with the sour cream and herbs and refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve the hot soup with a dollop of mushroom cream.

Jane Lawson is a cookbook author, publishing consultant and runs regular cuisine and culture tour in Japan, you can follow her on Instagram @janelawsonfood
Image and recipe from Snowflakes and Schnapps by Jane Lawson, Murdoch Books, RRP $49.95