Mushroom and Pearl Barley Soup 02, with borlotti beans, fresh thyme and sour cream

This is fast turning out to be one of my favourite soups, especially now that I’ve included borlotti beans. And, even though this would be made during colder months, it’s still freezing cold here right now. All the more reason for updating this particular Mushroom and Pearl Barley Soup post. I’m still pondering over reheating the cooked pearl barley in olive oil and..well, that’s where the pondering comes in. I just can’t think of an ingredient to bring out the flavour of the barley for this. Of course, the mushrooms and beans do that to a certain extent. Is it simply butter rather than oil? I’ll have to wait and see.

Mushroom and Pearl Barley Soup, with borlotti beans, fresh thyme and sour cream


  • 40g (1.41 oz) x pearl barley, well rinsed and soaked overnight
  • olive oil and butter
  • 250g (8.81 oz) x chestnut mushrooms, wiped, sliced in half, turned and sliced into about 8 pieces
  • 1 x dried bay leaf, split
  • 3 x medium garlic cloves, peeled, root end cut off and discarded and garlic crushed/minced
  • pinch x cayenne pepper, more to personal taste
  • 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water
  • 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
  • 2 x sprigs fresh thyme + extra leaves for serving
  • 1 x 300g or 175g drained weight (10.58 or 6.17 0z drained weight) can borlotti beans, rinsed
  • sour or single/light cream, to serve
  • thyme leaves – optional

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • Soak the pearl barley overnight, then rinse again before using. If barley hasn’t been soaked then cook it to the pack’s instructions. If soaked then put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) in a saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover. Add a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked, possibly about 20 or so minutes. Times will vary so keep an eye on them to prevent them from overcooking. When cooked drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
  • In the meantime pan-fry the mushrooms with the bay leaf in a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 with a little oil. If they start to leach their brown liquid keep with the pan until that is reabsorbed. That’s when the mushrooms need to be stirred through often to prevent scorching. Get them as evenly golden on all sides as possible. Take off heat and add the crushed/minced garlic and stir through. Sprinkle over the cayenne and after a couple of minutes, which will allow the rawness of the garlic to cook out slightly, pour in the water, add the stock cube with the fresh thyme and put back on heat No 4 with a lid, bring to near boiling, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes. REMOVE THE THYME STEMS AND BAY LEAVES, discarding the thyme. Retain the bay leaves. Allow the mushroom mixture to cool sufficiently before pouring it into a blender or liquidiser. Blend until smooth and return this to the saucepan.
  • Add the bay leaves, put back on heat No 4 with a lid, bring to near boiling point, reduce to No 2 until served.
  • Add the pearl barley to a pan with a little oil or butter and reheat on heat No 2 for about 5 minutes before serving the soup.
  • Add the borlotti beans to a separate pan with a little oil for about 5 minutes before serving to heat them through.
  • Serve with more thyme leaves and either sour cream or single/light cream.

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn


    • This will be bettered. For me it’s all about the food presented, rather than styling. If the food doesn’t look good then the post itself isn’t going to work. This soup is delicious as is. However, with few modifications I know this can look appetising. Right now I’m itching to put it back to draft!


  1. Anne is amazing and you are too! Taste is best! Johnny, I am not a mushroom eater but a good soup is a good soup. The ingredients in this soup are all delicious and the soup has to be too! It is all about the blend of ingredients and the taste! {Hugs}


    • Absolutely love barley at this time of year. In this soup I only cook them, rather than purée. With using borlotti beans this weekend I’m hoping their softer texture will go with the slightly chewy barley.


  2. This brings back memories. There is a NY style deli in CT that used to do a wonderful mushroom and barley soup. No matter it isn’t great to look at, it’s proper stick to your ribs food. 🙂


    • Isn’t it just! I couldn’t help but notice how big a deal soup is in the US, especially compared to the UK. There was even a chain that served mostly soups and salads. Great for me, especially as it was so cold in NYC.


  3. Pingback: Mushroom and barley soup recipe. With 1 chilli pepper for the extra taste ;-) | Chocolate Spoon & The Camera

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