Saturday, January 8, 2011

Mushroom Soup

I'm sure others (especially fellow Slovaks) have their own recipe for mushroom soup, but this is ours. It is the epitome of a family recipe. Not written down anywhere (except for now of course) and many many tweaks over the years by great-grandmothers, grandmothers, and mothers.

One of the great things about family recipes is how personal they really are. Each taste and smell evokes specific memories, but also a warm and cozy feeling. The other thing I love about recipes like this is how they change just a little bit with each generation. Some tweaks are just to improve taste, others are to make it a more perfect reflection of the cook. My grandmother added ketchup (a "secret ingredient") and my mother added malt vinegar right before serving, instead of the regular white vinegar as a nod to our love of British fish & chips. It remains to be seen how my sister and I will adapt this recipe as it settles into our kitchens, but it is exciting to think about. And certainly a wonderful inspiration in the kitchen.

Mushroom Soup from the Sedlar/Rash family collection
24 oz sliced button mushrooms, washed & patted dry with a paper towel
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shakes crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 32 oz boxes vegetable broth
1 19 oz can vegetable soup
4 oz pearled barley
1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 egg
a few drops of water

1. In a medium sauce pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the mushrooms and cover. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

2. In a large pot put 1 box of vegetable broth, vegetable soup, and cooked mushrooms. Cook second half of mushrooms as in step 1 and add to the large pot.

3. Place lid over the large pot and simmer on low for about an hour.

4. After an hour, add the barley and cover. Increase heat to medium-low.

5. When the barley is cooked through (about another hour), remove from heat and let rest for about 1/2 hour.

6. About an hour before you are ready to eat, put the pot on medium-high heat and add some more vegetable broth if the texture is too thick (it should be closer to soup than stew).

7. In a separate bowl mix the flour, cornstarch and egg with a fork. It will be a very thick paste. Add a few drops of water. The desired texture should be like a very sticky dough - if it is closer to a batter, you've added too much water and should compensate with more flour.

8. Once the soup is simmering, it is ready for the dumplings. Using a fork and knife, cut small (seriously, not too big) pieces of the sticky dough into the soup. Stir after each forkful or the dumplings will stick to each other. Use all of the dough.

9. Let simmer for about 30 minutes - the dumplings do not take long and will start to float when they are cooked. Add ketchup and stir.

10. Remove from heat and serve with white or malt vinegar to individual taste.


  1. I just want to add that this is a great soup for fall & winter. Also, purists like to use European dried mushrooms, which gives the soup a more 'earthy' taste. But, any mushroom will do, as long as it's edible! In fact, I have some mushrooms at home right now, waiting patiently to become the next Simon&Rash comfort food.....

  2. Hi! I just found your site through 101 cookbooks. I'm working on a project and was wondering if you'd like to share a recipe for it. Can you e-mail me @ and I'll give you the details? Thanks!


  3. Judy: I made the soup again and froze the leftovers in single-serving amounts in plastic bags. so yummy!

    Jennifer: sounds great! I just emailed you :o)

  4. Yum! This is perfect for a snow-covered day!