Russian Mushroom Barley Soup (Грибной Суп с Перловкой)
In the crisp, sunny autumn days, the forests ofRussiaare full of people perusing the wooded floor for mushrooms. Mushroom foraging is almost a sport for Slavic people. For centuries, mushrooms have been a really substantial part of the diet, during the long winter months. Since the winter is so long and the warm weather doesn’t last very long, the meat supply was pretty scarce and had to be supplemented by mushrooms, which are hearty, savory and a perfect substitute.
When we still lived in Belarus, we would get together in groups and make our way to the forest with pails. Usually right after a few rainy days, the mushrooms were especially plentiful. We rustled though the leaves and pine needles, adding one mushroom after another to our pails, breathing in the pine-scented fresh air. I loved the comraderie of these expeditions – talking, laughing, and exchanging stories. We would come back home satisfied, rosy-cheeked and hungry. We would put a large pot of potatoes to cook and serve it up with bacon and onions. The star of the meal would be mushrooms, of course. Simply sautéed with the bacon and onions, or with sour cream, mushrooms are so scrumptious.
We would marinate and dry the mushrooms to enjoy throughout the cold, winter months. Mushroom soup was a favorite. I make it with all kinds of mushrooms, basically, whatever happens to be available. Chanterelles are my favorite. In Russian, they are called lisichki, little foxes, or chanterelles in English. I love the texture, they are meaty, hearty and extremely delicious. In a light broth and with chunks of potatoes, creamy barley, onions and garnished with a bit of crispy bacon and fresh herbs, this soup is elegant and at the same time reminds me of those days in Grandma’s kitchen, where I ate it after a day in the forest.
*We always had an expert who knew exactly which mushrooms were good and which ones to steer clear of. Don’t pick mushrooms if you don’t have the needed knowledge. Some mushrooms are poisonous, so your best bet is to buy them in the grocery store.
Rinse the barley. Place the water and barley into a medium pot. Season with salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the potatoes to the soup. Continue cooking at a simmer until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into small pieces, lardons. Cook on medium heat in a skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Pour out all but about 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease. You can pour it all out and add about 1 Tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and cook on high heat. The mushrooms will exude a lot of liquid, keep cooking on high heat until all the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking on medium heat until the onions are tender and just beginning to turn golden. Add to the soup and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender. Garnish with the bacon and fresh dill and chives. Serve with sour cream.
- ¼ cup barley, pearled
- 8 cups water
- 2-3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3-4 strips bacon
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 8 oz mushrooms, chanterelles (or any other)
- salt, pepper
- fresh herbs (dill, chives, etc), minced
- Rinse the barley. Place the water and barley into a medium pot. Season with salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and continue cooking at a simmer until the potatoes are tender.
- Meanwhile, cut the bacon into small pieces, lardons. Cook on medium heat in a skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel.
- Pour out all but about 1 Tablespoon of the bacon grease. You can pour it all out and add about 1 Tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and cook on high heat. The mushrooms will exude a lot of liquid, keep cooking on high heat until all the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden.
- Add the onions, season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking on medium heat until the onions are tender and just beginning to turn golden.
- Add to the soup and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender. Garnish with the bacon and fresh dill and chives. Serve with sour cream.
Thank you Olya for sharing your delicious recipes with us. I make similar soup to yours, using champion mushrooms from the grocery. You are very lucky to find licichki, I totally agree with you they are delicious along with pog-berezoviki. Yum.
I usually make this soup with whatever mushrooms are available at the store too. It’s very rare that I can find chanterelles, so I’m so excited when I actually find them. There are so many wonderful mushrooms that we used to pick in Belarus.
What about dried mushrooms?
For this soup, I like to use fresh mushrooms. If you want to use dry mushrooms, you will need to use a lot less, since their flavor is very intense.
Ruth Ann Vokac
I really want to try this recipe, Olga. It looks delicious. How much bacon do you use for it?
You need 3-4 strips of bacon.
Ruth Ann Vokac
Thanks! I will make this soon!
Yum! Yum! Yum! Too bad my husband diesent like mushrooms.. Might have to make this just for myself and invite my mom over 😉
Ha ha, Alla!
I am a bigger fan of mushrooms than my husband too. I make this soup and eat it at work:).
The dried mushrooms are too expansive.
Actually, they aren’t as expensive as they seem. Since they are so dehydrated, the cost is much less. They are also so much more intense in flavor than the fresh ones, which means you only need a little bit. I really like adding dry mushrooms to sauces and soups as a flavoring, not as the main ingredient. Instead of adding 8 oz as you would the dry mushrooms, you would only need 1-2 oz only of the dry mushrooms. If I make this soup with dry mushrooms, I only add a little bit for the flavor and I use fresh mushrooms as the main ingredient.
Do you have a recipe for canollis?
I haven’t made cannolis. If I ever do, I will let you know.
My sister Sveta introduced me to your website just recently and I am so excited to try some of your recipes, especially Russian food & this soup! Thank You & Best wishes!
Thank you, Tatiana! Welcome! I hope you find many recipes that you will enjoy.
Made this today with dry mushrooms. So yummy! Thank you very much for the recipe. Love your blog!
Thank you so much. I love soup with dry mushrooms too. It’s so hearty and delicious.
Ok, I didn’t have any meat on hand so I went with this soup. OMGoodness! This isn’t a soup that my mom ever made. And I thought she made them all. Wow, its hearty, flavorful and simply delicious! My husband LoVED it!! One alteration I made was adding carrots. I just had to do it lol
I didn’t have any meat on hand so I went with this soup. OMGoodness! This isn’t a soup that my mom ever made. And I thought she made them all. Wow, its hearty, flavorful and simply delicious! My husband LoVED it!! One alteration I made was adding carrots. I just had to do it lol
Thanks for letting me know! This is one of my top favorites for sure. I could eat this soup for three days and not get sick of it:). I’m so glad you like it too. I add carrots too sometimes.
Hey! I cant find the fresh mushroom that this recipe calls for. Any suggestions what mushroom could replace the chanterelles?
Oksana, I wrote in the post that you can use any kind of mushrooms for this soup. Use whatever is available.
Olga, I want to print out the recipe, but it won’t let me print just the recipe card.
I didn’t always have the plugin that I use now for the printable recipe. I am slowly adding this option to the older recipes. If there’s ever any other recipe that you want to have the printable option for, just let me know. This one is all set to go:).
Excited to make this tomorrow 🙂
This is one of my favorites! If only my husband liked mushrooms as much as I do:).
I made this yesterday, only skipped the bacon. I used frozen lisichki – in NY one can find them, and other mushrooms, in a freezer section at any Russian food store. This a great hearty soup to have for dinner on a cold winter evening!
I am making this soup for a Russian-themed dinner tonight in honor of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Thanks for the recipe!
That’s awesome, Lisa! I’ve always loved this soup so much. I would love to hear what you think once you’ve tried it.
Your party sounds awesome. So much fun!
Hello, thanks for your recipe.
I did it today and followed the instructions stricktly, but the barley (1/4 cup) simply disappeared in 8 cups of water. Did I make anything wrong? It seems to me it does not agregate any flavor or smothness to the soup. Sorry for the comment, but I became quite curious about the question. Thanks, Vitor.
Vegetable Recipes for Great Lent - Russian Foods
[…] Olga’s Flavor Factory serves up a traditional Russian recipe for a savory mushroom barley soup. Skip the bacon of course, during Lent! […]
Where did you find Lisichki/Chanterelles??? In my 14 years in the US I have never seen them in the grocery store! Those, too were my favorite growing up!
They are SO hard to find. We had them at a store called Fresh Market as well as Whole Foods.
Hi, I am an American living in Minsk and I love your recipes! I have a question–what would you say the equivalent of bacon is in Belarus? I know there is бекон, but that is hard to find and doesn’t seem to be the same thing. I have tried buying different things that look like bacon here, but I never know if it will render fat and cook down the way American bacon does–and half the time it doesn’t work. What would you ask the butcher for (in Russian) if you were making this recipe in Minsk?
My husband and I love picking Chanterelles here in Washington. So much fun! This looks delicious. I really want to give it a try. Also, you can find Chanterelles in Costco during the fall but I don’t know if that’s everywhere..
Olga, I’m making this right now because I found Chanterelles at Costco! I was so excited at the store my son looked at me like I was crazy 😄
Whenever I find chanterelles, I get really excited too, Brittany! They are the best. I hope you enjoy this soup.
My late wife taught me which mushrooms that we were likely to find were edible. However, she left no written recipe for mushroom & barley soup. I’ve dried boletes, morels, chanterelles, & some others the names of which I don’t remember at the moment. You’ve carefully avoided providing instructions on reconstituting dried mushrooms. How about helping a fellow who wants the soup but who hasn’t the slightest idea how much water to use for about 4 oz. of dried mushrooms and about how much time it takes to reconstitute them. I don’t live in a city where the supermarkets sell much besides button mushrooms and portabellas. If I want anything more interesting or tasty, I have to pick the mushrooms myself.
Check out this newer recipe for mushroom soup where I do explain how to reconstitute and use dry mushrooms, dry porcini and chanterelle are my personal favorites. Mushroom Soup
How does barley translate into ukrainian or russian? I am having a hard time finding it in my pantry and I know I have a ton of grain. Please translate.
barley is перловка (perlovka) in Russian.