Carrot barley soup with mushrooms, thyme, lentils, and miso

December 9, 2009 at 12:11 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Jewish, Miso, Mom’s recipes, My brain, soup)

When I was a kid my mom would often make carrot barley soup.  There was something uber-comforting about the warm, orange broth and fluffy, exploded barley kernels.  I had some barley in the pantry and decided to make carrot barley soup for dinner, but Derek objected.  He would accede only if I made it into a miso soup.  I wasn’t in the mood to cook, so I decided to also throw in some mushrooms and red lentils to make it a one pot meal.  And thus, this soup was born.


  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 ounces grated carrot (about 1.5 cups tightly packed, or 2 medium carrots)
  • 9 ounces chopped onion (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 9 cups stock or water + no-salt bouillon
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Tbs. red miso
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley (optional)


  1. In a 4-6 quart pot heat the olive oil over high heat.  When it’s hot add the carrots, onion, mushrooms, and salt.  Reduce the heat to medium-ghigh. Saute for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables stop releasing water.
  2. Add in the water, barley, black pepper, garlic clove, thyme leaves, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. When the soup is done, mix in the miso. Either mix it in a separate bowl with some of the broth from the soup, or put it in a sieve and slowly push it through into the soup.  Garnish with fresh chopped parlsey and serve immediately.


I didn’t have any parsley so I left it out.

The red lentils totally dissolved, but added a bit of grittiness to the soup.  The sliced mushrooms ended up slightly rubbery but I liked the textural contrast compared to the gritty lentils and the fluffy barley.   I couldn’t decided if the red lentils added depth to the flavor profile, or if they muddied up the pure flavors of the soup.  Similarly with the miso.  I just couldn’t figure out whether the miso added a nice umame flavor, or muddied it up.  The thyme, on the other hand, was clearly a great addition.  I think the soup would have even benefited from another 1/2 tsp. or 1 tsp. of thyme added at the end.  Of course, if I had had parsley maybe the extra thyme would have clashed with the parsley.

Derek ended up liking the soup.  He said he’d eat it again, but he wouldn’t yearn for it.  He gave it a B.  He liked the barley, and said that with enough salt it had good flavor.  He thought the flavor was a bit muddy, but the soup was pretty satisfying.

I enjoyed the soup.  I think perhaps it could be improved a little, but it was very comforting and satisfying, just like my mom’s carrot barley soup.  Rating: B.

Permalink Leave a Comment