Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vegetable Barley-Rice Soup

This simple vegetable barley-rice soup is reminiscent of the very substantial and deliciously complex mushroom barley soups which were a staple in the kitchens of my mother and grandmother; brown rice and miso paste were unknown to them but their soups were thickened with lots of potato and barley and flavored by the smokey foresty flavors of imported dried Russian mushrooms. This recipe is simply a combination of vegetable miso soup and cooked barley-rice (mugimeshi). The vegetable soup requires only minutes to prepare; then add as much mugimeshi as desired. Of course, any other cooked grain which you happen to have on hand may be used in the same way. (See previous posts for miso soup and barley-rice recipes).

2-1/2 cups fresh water
1/2 carrot, diced
1/2 celery rib, diced
1 tablespoon leek, sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced
1 cup cooked mugimeshi (barley-rice)
2 teaspoons white miso paste

Combine water and vegetables in a small soup pot. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer; cook on a low flame until vegetables are tender. (About 5 minutes). Add mugimeshi and simmer another 2 or 3 minutes. Dissolve miso paste in a small bowl with some soup broth, add to pot, and warm for another minute without boiling. Serve in a pre-heated bowl. Optional: Garnish with a few drops of lemon juice or umeboshi vinegar.
Yield: One serving.