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Mushroom Barley Soup

Friday, November 23, 2012
Mushroom Barley Soup

poi una notte di settembre mi svegliai
il vento sulla pelle,
sul mio corpo il chiarore delle stelle
chissà dov’era casa mia
e quel bambino che giocava in un cortile...

~ Nomadi, Io Vagabondo

then one night in September I woke up
wind on my skin,
starlight on my body
I wondered where my home was
and that kid playing in the courtyard...

~ Nomadi, Me, a Vagabond

There comes a time when you decide to leave behind your certainties and you're ready to embrace new ones.
It seems to happen quite suddenly, but deep down you know that it's actually the combined effect of all the intersections you've crossed before, of all those sleepless nights spent riding a bicycle through the paths of your mind; that it's a spell orchestrated by the dust of the desert and the stars of a forest in the summer; it's the energy received by silent glances and infinite hugs, which slowly took shape within you and became the courage of a dive into the unknown.
It looks like you've done it all by yourself, but deep down you feel obliged to thank one by one those encounters, and those farewells, the loves real and fake, the tears, and the smiles, and all those written words, and sung, or recited, and then again those that were rewritten, edited, and returned to the sender.
It's wandering this way that you get there, to photograph and then sit in front of a mushroom soup that seems to speak a universal language. You close your eyes and you could be in Paris. But also in Rome or San Francisco. And all you ask is to keep wandering through unknown roads, with a tender heart and a ticket always open.

Thyme and Shiitake Mushrooms

Mushroom Barley Soup
for 4-5 people

mixed fresh mushrooms
(white and brown button mushrooms, shiitake)
650 gr
dried shiitake mushrooms 10 gr
onion 1/2
shallot 1
carrot 1
celery stalk 1
pearled barley 100 gr
vegetable stock 1 liter approx.
tamari or soy sauce 4-5 tablespoons
olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, bay leaves as needed

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover with water and let stand at least 10 minutes. Drain and chop them, reserving their liquid.
Finely chop onion and shallot and sauté for a few minutes in a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, add diced carrot and celery, fresh and soaked mushrooms, and cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Add barley, tamari, broth, mushrooms' water, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 40 minutes. If necessary, add a bit of water. Season with salt and pepper and serve

Thyme and Salt

For this recipe which may make sense only to me (please forgive me, I won't do it anymore...), I was inspired by a similar soup that I've tasted at Whole Foods, this place so wonderful that I'd almost sleep in there, a foodist' paradise where food doesn't lie, it's your friend and often you find out that it's also your neighbor; a hipster supermarket where apples seem to have fallen right from the tree of your childhood, scents and colors would get drunk also the irreducible ones, and where employees are all... you know... beautiful, fit, and tattooed.

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I love how this recipe combines the rich umami flavor of mushrooms with the wholesome goodness of barley.

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