On a frigid night like tonite, the allure of a bowl of hot soup cannot be underestimated.
I love making soup -- simmering the stock, and getting it rich and flavorful, sauteing veggies for the base of the soup, adding those little 'hidden' ingredients that you really can't 'taste,' but improve the character of the soup so drastically, like a dollop of tomato paste, a glug of sherry or port, a couple teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, a tiny bit of cream.
There are few soups that aren't better the day after they're made, and this is certainly one of them. I suspect that the reason has much to do with the starch that's added to the soup -- barley, rice, noodles. As the soup sits, starch leaches from the barley into the stock, and consequently thickens it, gives it body, which adds a pleasant mouthfeel to the soup, and improves overall flavor.
3/4 c pearl barley, cooked in copious amounts of salted water until tender, about 45 minutes.
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
2 Tbp each, fresh sage and parsley, chopped
In a skillet, melt 4 Tbp butter in 2 Tbp olive oil, and sauté one finely chopped shallot about 2 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until tender and lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped parsley and sage. Set aside.
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated/shredded
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbp tomato paste
6 cups stock (beef or chicken)
In a Dutch oven, sauté onion, carrot, garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, and sauté a minute or two more. Add stock. Add the sautéed mushrooms and barley. Bring to a simmer.