Mushroom Barley Soup

Today’s Mushroom Barley Soup is simple enough to whip up during the holiday hubbub, yet satisfying enough to fuel a day of shopping or night of socializing. It’s good for you, too.

Barley’s most unique property is its high levels of soluble beta-glucan fiber. Beta-glucans reduce cholesterol, help control blood sugar and function of the improve immune system, according to the Italian medical journal Minerva Med. Furthermore, many medical journals have documented that barley helps blood-sugar because it slows down glucose absorption. That makes it good news for people with Type 2 diabetes.

Quick-cooking pearl barley (the kind in today’s dish) isn’t technically a whole-grain food because most of its bran comes off in the refining process. But because barley’s fiber is present throughout the grain, pearl barley retains much of its beta-glucan fiber. This can help reduce visceral fat and waist circumference.

Serves 8. 120 calories.

1 g fat (no saturated or trans fat), 199 mg sodium.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups, fresh mushrooms (any kind)
  • 1 tsp., olive oil
  • 1 tsp., light margarine
  • 1 cup, chopped onion
  • 1 cup, quick-cooking pearl barley
  • 4 cups, vegetable broth
  • 2 cups, water
  • 1 14.5-oz. can, petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 cup, chopped fresh parsley or other herb

Directions:

  1. Brush mushrooms to remove any soil that may be clinging to them. Rinse under cool water and drain. Trim stems and cut into bite-sized pieces, remembering that mushrooms shrink when cooked.
  2. Heat olive oil and margarine in a large soup pot. Add onion and mushrooms. Stir till onions are wilted and mushrooms give up their moisture. Add barley, broth, water, and tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes or until barley is tender.
  3. Turn off heat. Use a vegetable peeler to put thin strips of carrot into soup. Add parsley.
  4. Serve immediately.
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