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.
1ham hock (about 900gm)60 ml (¼ cup)extra-virgin olive oil1leek, finely chopped1onion, finely chopped4garlic cloves, finely chopped400 gmwhite pearl barley, rinsed20 gmdried porcini mushrooms, soaked in ¼ cup cold water for 20 minutes, finely chopped, water reserved2thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves to serve8small pine mushrooms, coarsely chopped¼ cupcoarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, optionalTo serve:finely grated pecorino
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.
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).
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.