Mushroom Barley Soup

I was taught how to make this recipe when I was a teenager. A family friend owned a successful catering company in Roslyn, New York and she was known for this soup. Estelle taught me that the secret to this thick, smooth soup was peeled lima beans! Honest. Before you sign off on this recipe let me tell you that it is very easy to peel the beans after they have soaked for a few hours in hot water. All you have to do is squeeze the skins and the beans slide right out. I use dried porcini mushrooms in this recipe but any earthy, dried variety will do.


  • 1 cup dried large lima beans
  • 1/2 ounce dried imported mushrooms
  • 1 slice of flanken
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1/4 cup medium pearl barley

Preparation Instructions

  1. Cover the lima beans with boiling water and allow to sit for 1 or more hours.
  2. Cover dried mushrooms with boiling water and allow to sit for 1/2 hour.
  3. Place flanken in a soup pot and cover with the 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil and cook for 1/2 hour skimming off the foam periodically.
  4. Meanwhile, remove the skins from the lima beans and dice the soaked mushrooms.
  5. Add the beans and the dried mushrooms to the soup pot.
  6. Sauté the onion in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the celery and mushrooms and cook until wilted and translucent. Add to the soup pot.
  7. Add the diced carrot and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 hour stirring occasionally so that the mixture does not stick.
  8. Add the barley and cook for 1/2 to 1 hour longer or until the meat is tender and the lima beans disintegrate. Check the seasoning.
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