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Mushroom and pearl barley soup (minestra di orzo e funghi)

You can use any mushrooms you like in this dish, but the pine mushrooms add nice colour and flavour. It's more of a stew than a soup, really, with little liquid and plenty of comfort factor.

You'll need

1 ham hock (about 900gm) 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil 1 leek, finely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 400 gm white pearl barley, rinsed 20 gm dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in ¼ cup cold water for 20 minutes, finely chopped, water reserved 2 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve 8 small pine mushrooms, coarsely chopped ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, optional To serve: finely grated pecorino


  • 01
  • Place ham hock in a large saucepan with 3 litres cold water, bring to the simmer over low-medium heat and cook until meat is falling from the bone (3-4 hours). Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside, then, when cool enough to handle, shred meat (discard skin, bone and sinew). Reserve ham stock and meat separately.
  • 02
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add leek, onion and garlic and stir occasionally until starting to caramelise (10-15 minutes). Add pearl barley, dried mushrooms, mushroom water and thyme, pour over ham stock to cover and cook over medium heat until barley is tender (30-40 minutes).
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a separate saucepan over high heat, add pine mushrooms in batches and cook until golden, adding more oil if necessary (2-3 minutes). Add to soup with parsley and shredded ham and cook until mushrooms are very tender (5-10 minutes). Serve hot scattered with pecorino and extra thyme.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

May 2011

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