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Mushroom Barley Soup

1 cup boiling water
1 pkg. (1/2 oz.) dried wild mushrooms, such as porcini
2 Tbsp. margarine or butter, divided
3 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt, optional
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
1 lbs. button mushrooms, sliced
2/3 cup pearl barley
6 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
Finely chopped green onions or parsley (optional)

In a heatproof bowl, combine boiling water and dried mushrooms. Let
stand for 30 minutes, then strain through
a fine sieve, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms finely and set aside.

In a skillet, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add onions
and cook until soft. Add garlic, optional salt and pepper and cook for
1 minute. Transfer mixture to slow cooker stoneware. In same pan, melt
remaining butter and cook button mushrooms over medium-high heat until
they begin to lose their liquid. Add dried mushrooms, toss to combine
and cook for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to slow cooker stoneware. Add
barley, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, stock, water, bay leaf and
soy sauce.

Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours.
Discard bay leaf. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with chopped
green onions or parsley, if using. Yield: 8 servings.


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