mushroom and farro soup

Barely two weeks ago, I used the following phrases to describe soup: “vegetables boiled to death,” “assaulted with too much cream,” “whatever healthy things in there cannot be tasted,” and even “what must have been a practical joke” about an especially awful one I’d ordered recently. I admitted that I found soup boring, and my relationship to it has been on especially unstable terms this year after repeated disappointments.

soaking dried porcinis

We then proceeded to eat soup for dinner for the next 14 days. What happened? It turns out that baked potato soup is a gateway drug, in that when we finished it, we wanted more soup. Different soup. We swore we could stop any time we wanted, but three batches of soup later, we realize we might have underestimated the power of good soup, the kind that is filling but also freeing of the nightly “What’s for dinner?” because, it’s already made and only needs to be reheated. I’ll admit that the fear of The Swimsuit when we go on vacation in a few weeks may have also egged on this habit, but it was the soup — come on, you know you wanna! — that really kept us engaged.

steamy mushrooms

After the potato soup, we moved onto a tomato-y cabbage soup that we enjoyed, but I can assure you that the recipe isn’t ready for prime time and black bean pumpkin soup, one of our all-time favorites from the archives. And then this weekend, I attempted to recreated the kind of mushroom barley soup I grew up eating. Except, no offense ma, this is much much bolder.

mushroom farro soup

It starts with soaking dried porcini, which, understandably, is the start of something wonderful as they pack so much flavor in what looks in the store like wood chips. I blame my German half for my affection for beef broth (I don’t think my grandmother used chicken broth once in her life, even for matzo ball soup), and the combination of beef broth, porcinis, their soaking liquid, brown mushrooms and the tomato paste I snuck in there makes for a soup that literally smacks you in the face (or perhaps knocks you off your stool) with flavor. The farro (which I used because I was out of barley, but either work, as will spelt) gives you something nice to bite into, and gives it more of a main-course feel and should I want to make more of a stew-type soup, I might even double it next time.

mushroom farro soup

One year ago: New York Deli Rye Bread
Two years ago: Flaky Blood Orange Tart
Three years ago: Key Lime Cheesecake
Four years ago: Icebox Cake

Mushroom Farro Soup
Adapted from Marian Burros’ mama, via The New York Times

Alas, a puddle of brown soup is hard to make look like anything but. I was very tempted to swirl in a sherry cream or a dollop of dilled sour cream to pretty it up, and were I serving this for a dinner party or guests, I might. But there’s so much flavor, it doesn’t need it.

For the mushrooms, you can use white, brown/cremini, shiitake or a mixture thereof. But I use all brown/cremini almost every time.

Makes about 7 cups

1/3 cup dried mushrooms like porcini
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms (you’ll prepare them shortly)
1/2 cup farro, pearled barley, or spelt, rinsed
6 cups low sodium or salt-free beef broth or stock (vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock can be swapped)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water, and set aside for 20 minutes, or while you prepare the rest of the soup.

Trim and slice fresh mushrooms, then give them a rough chop to your desired texture.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed deep pot. Sauté onions and carrots over medium heat until onions begin to color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, and cook until they begin to release liquid, about 5 to 10 minutes. Raise heat and add barley; sauté until it begins to color (this didn’t really happen for me, because the mushroom liquid was still sloshing about). Add broth, sherry and tomato paste. Scoop the porcinis out of their soaking liquid (hang onto the liquid) and finely chop them. Strain the soaking liquid to remove any grit and add both this liquid and the chopped porcinis to pot. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until grains are tender. Stir in sherry vinegar; adjust seasonings and serve.

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282 comments on mushroom and farro soup


    18″ of snow are coming within the next 24 hours. This may or may not sound delicious and by that I mean it sounds delicious.

    1. Nan

      My Daughter suggested I make this and If I didn’ t live so far away I would have kissed her. It is definately a keeper . First time using farro but, my hubby and I agree , it is a fabulous grain with a nutty personality !
      So thrilled to have access to your delightful dishes via the web.
      Thank you!

  2. I also have been eating and using mushrooms a lot lately. They are a perfect winter ingredient with such warming and hearty flavor! This recipe looks great, I’ll be adding it in my notebook of recipes to try!

  3. Sally

    This is a family favorite! We make this all the time (there’s some frozen in my freezer right now – it freezes very well). We used chicken stock, and half white mushrooms, half cremini… Enjoy :)

  4. Caz

    Yum! if it wasn’t 40*C (100F) here I’d be making this soup asap. Alas, I think I’ll wait until winter. I love soup in all it’s incarnations and eat it regularly! Delish.

  5. Gina

    Aww man! This looks so delicious. I can never cook with mushrooms because my boyfriend thinks they “taste like snakes”. He has never eaten snakes, but is deathly afraid of them. Not sure where he got the mushroom-snake connection. Maybe he’ll go out of town soon so I can try this. :)

  6. Sharon

    What kind of beef broth do you use? I always use homemade chicken stock, and now boxed beef stock always tastes “off” to me. I’ve become spoiled, and I blame you :)

    1. deb

      Sharon — I’ve made and delighted in Julia Child’s beef stock from Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the past; these days I’m really pinched for time and have been using Pacific brand, organic low-sodium. It’s not half-bad but if you have the time to make fresh stock, it will really show up in a brothy soup like this.

  7. Nicole

    Oooh! I have tomato paste leftover from the red lentil soup I made yesterday, and mushrooms, and barley!! And we’re getting 1/2″ of ice tonight – guess what we’re having tomorrow!! Guess we’re on a soup kick too!

  8. Your too funny! I agree w your description of soups for the most part, especially the loss of ‘real’ flavour once you’ve boiled everything to death and added cream. It’s taken some real experimenting on my part to find good soup. The effort is well worth it for a really good bowl of soup! I love the flavors in this one! Love em to bits!

  9. Kate

    I just wanted to tell you that I made your baked eggs w spinach & mushrooms, latkes, and winter fruit salad this weekend for brunch and they were all fabulous. I could eat those eggs every single weekend — heaven.

    To the poster above, buy the sherry! Sherry makes almost every soup in the world taste better (especially split pea).

  10. I have always been a soup gal, but I must’ve taken a longer break than realized, as I had friends and the hubs both requesting more soup. Yesterday I decided to make a big batch and almost went for a mushroom barley, but decided on a revved-up vegetable. Now I realize the reason I waited was serendipitous – so I can try your take on it. Look’s delish – and I like the farro substitution (if only because I always have that on hand!).

  11. Sara B

    Well I hope your soup kick continues because that cabbage tomato soup sounds pretty good. I am sure we all would forgive you for posting three or four soup recipes during January and February.

  12. I have told my husband 3 times in the last week that I am craving a mushroom soup. Is this a sign? I must make it. I love beef broth as well. It is a staple in my kitchen.

  13. Farro is the best! It is chewy and nutty and really adds a nice richness to soups. For gluten-free people, there’s a great wild-rice blend by Lundberg that would work well here. This soup is lovely enough without a dollop of sour cream, but I probably won’t be able to resist adding some chopped up leaves of kale in the last 8 minutes of cooking. Beware of some of those boxed beef stocks containing MSG (which goes by lots of different names, such as autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed this or that). When I don’t have homemade beef stock on hand, I just use chicken stock with a little shoyu or tamari added for savoriness. (Is that a word?)

  14. This soup looks divine! However, I do have one very weird question: If someone really didn’t like onions (yes, I know I’m strange), how much would it impact the consistency of the soup? I like the flavor of onions, so I’m happy to substitute onion powder, but I really do not like the texture of onions. Help??

  15. There is a serious lack of good farro recipes on the web these days! I bought a bag of the stuff and made almost everything Heidi (@101cookbooks) suggested, but I wanted a farro recipe with a little more, how do you say, MEAT! I can’t wait to try this! Thanks :)

    P.S. I consider soup a food group and eat it for dinner at least 3 nights a week. I also bake desserts 3-4 nights a week and I’m skinny. So it works! :)

  16. This recipe looks delicious and I am always interested in different recipes for soup. It is quick and easy to make and with the freezing temperatures in London it is a great winter warmer.

    Soup is great, filling and healthy thanks for posting this!

  17. Barbara

    Mushrooms and Farro and Broth – OH MY!!! First time commentor (?) and new lover of your blog, Deb! (I don’t even know what a blog is, but yours is educating me!

    1. deb

      life and kitchen –Needs to be taken downstairs for recycling (that’s like two hours worth of mess). The process gets sped up quickly when Jacob starts playing with the garbage.

  18. Ooh, yes, we love a soup very much like this, often.

    Try it, sometime, with a spoonful of miso stirred in, and/or a dash of Lea & Perrins. Can’t taste them at all, but oh my, the umami! They do a little tango with that porcini bass note.

  19. Maggie

    I’m totally making this this week!

    A question, though, Deb: do you think I could substitute wheat berries for the farro? It’s what I have on hand, and not having any idea what farro is (-shame-), my tentative guess would be that it’s kind of along the same lines …?

  20. Kate

    Can’t wait to hear about the tomato and cabbage soup. I’m picturing something like I got from a Polish deli here in Chicago once–rich with beef broth and mushrooms and tangy with sauerkraut. I tried to recreate it myself and failed miserably, but I have faith in you!

  21. Jess

    Is the tomato-y cabbage soup you made the one that was in the NYT a couple of weeks ago? I made it, and liked it enough to tweak it, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. So, if you do decide to get it ready for prime time, I’d definitely be interested!

    1. deb

      Jess — It’s not. The photo made me drool but 1/2 cup of brown sugar sounded all sorts of wrong to me. Also, ketchup doesn’t generally offend me but it has a lot of sugar in it so I imagined the soup would be very, very sweet. Did you like it? Because again, that photo looks amazing.

  22. Nikki

    Looks amazing! My hubby will go bananas if I add one more type of vinegar to our way-past-capacity tiny kitchen pantry…think red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar would do instead of sherry vinegar?

  23. Kevin

    We brought back a half kilo of dried porcini mushrooms from Italy this summer – from the weekly street market in Cortona. The lady at the stand got them straight from a huge barrel and shrink-wrapped them for us (along with a kilo of parmesano). Luckily, we still have some left, although the first batch went into the New Years’ eve lasagna. This is tomorrow night’s dinner. Have you ever heard of putting a rind of parmesan into the soup to give it that special flavor? Might just try that, too.

  24. dani

    I dont really love soup. Even the ones that sound good. Even when I’m sick. I bought ingredients for the blackbean soup on your website but have yet to make it and the ingredients are going to go bad. But this sounds delicious, so hopefully I grow the balls. Here’s hoping. By the way. If you love soup you must try Trinidadian Corn soup. It is very flavorful and I’ve never heard anyone complain. Typically eaten around carnival time (feb / march) or in the wee hours of the morning after an epic fete (all night party w live music, food, and all sorts of bacchanal, etc). Even non-soup-lovers and vegetarians like it. If you cant find a recipe e-mail me and I’ll get one for you. If you don’t love it, I will cook you anything you want to make up for time lost – and to your specifications too.

  25. Beanwean

    Hooray! I’ve been needing some new soup inspiration since I’m so bored with all of my regulars. This is just what I’ve been looking for!

  26. If it wasn’t nearly midnight I’d be soaking mushrooms and preparing a stock. Thanks for posting this, I’ve been searching for a good mushroom soup recipe for weeks. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  27. Petro in South Africa

    It is so hard salivating over your winter dishes while we are sweating in peak summer here in South Africa and then again your lovely light summer dishes when I am shivering, but I am rather good at trying out the print-outs a couple of months after the fact!

    Just a tip – don’t know what the case is over there, but buying dried porcini, basmati- red or wild rice or any such item here at “normal” stores cost the earth. These “exotic” items cost a fraction of the price at those funny Chinese grocers that are tucked into odd corners.

  28. I think just about any soup is a good soup especially on a cold chilly day. I made a Mac and cheese soup last night and my husband had three bowls of it. I’m posting this in a few days. Can’t wait to try your recipe

  29. Leslie

    Have often wondered — is Farro really just barley, but more expensive? I keep meaning to buy some and do a taste test. Is there a big difference? I often substitute wheat berries for barley too — can’t tell the difference.

  30. Charlene

    This sounds wonderful! And I have dried mushrooms from The Spice House in the freezer. Deb, could you please recommend a brand of sherry vinegar? I still haven’t found one I like.

  31. Another beautiful and undoubtedly delicious meal! And a refreshing version on a classic fave. This one is also a great source of vitamin D – a vitamin hard to get in (this especially snowy) winter! Did you know mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D. Thanks Deb!

  32. Haha. “Gateway Drug” is a good way of putting that. I tend to get into moods where I’ll only cook one type of dish for a couple weeks. Eventually I overdose and have to wait a couple months before I can even consider eating it again.

  33. Nice recipe. I can agree with you on nothing beating a good soup. I used to be a disbeliever as well. Your potato soup was one of my favorite recipes on here, so I can definitely see how that is a gateway drug to other soups haha.

  34. Jane

    My husband and I are big soup for dinner people so this is perfect. Actually, your white bean/ham/kale soup is one of our go to weeknight dinners. I don’t think you were a huge fan of it when you made it ;) but I skimmed all the comments and incorporated a bunch of the recommendations and now we can’t get enough of it! Can’t wait to try this one too.

  35. I can live squarely in the soup-for-dinner camp any day, although I do go on binges sometimes where all I want to eat is soup! And, kudos to German grandmothers and their beef broth; mine does the same, which leaves me gazing longingly at oxtails at the meat counter. :)

    Awesome soup!

  36. Yum – looks delicious! Can’t wait to try. Next time you’re stuck on soup, try making a Moroccan Harira soup. My husband (from Morocco) makes it all the time and it’s hearty, healthy and so delicious with it’s tomatoes, cilantro, spices, chickpeas and lentils. I’d be curious to see what modern updates you make – he just seems to follow recipes from his head…

  37. Jordy

    I also am on a winter soup fix and did try the cabbage soup recipe in the NYT. It was sweet, and required a bit of tweaking, but the end result was fabulous. Reminded me of my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage (not so different from your posted recipe, I’m thinking), so I’m seconding the vote for a prime-time version of cabbage soup!

  38. Karen

    I’ve been on the lookout for a divine beef and barely soup recipe and I think this one will be a good variation to try. You are right; it’s all about starting with a rich homemade broth. Since you’re on a soup kick, have you ever tried making tortilla soup? Nom nom!

  39. chiara

    Deb, just a little tip to try next time: make it without chopping the dried porcini…I like it better as you can taste better porcini flavour and texture!

  40. In Eastern Europe we use a lot of dried wild mushrooms in different dishes. We make a wonderful vegetarian dried porcini soup with cream but we never mix dried mushrooms and tomatoes because both of these ingredients have very distinct flavors that compete with each other. I am curious about the impression of those who will try your recipe.

  41. Kenny

    I love mushrooms, and this soup is also a dark broth(if you go that way), and hearty bites, from strong textured grains? Oh my, I think I’m in love.

    Also it looks fine, there is no need to add something to it visually in the soup to make it stand out. The color is fine, the darkness gives it a mysterious feel to it, such as wanting to eat it… ;-)

  42. Jess

    I cut the brown sugar in half in the NYT cabbage soup and it was still too sweet for my taste (no matter how much my boyfriend tried to convince me that cabbage soup is supposed to be sweet and sour), so for me, the recipe still needs some work in that respect. That said, I liked it enough to use it as a jumping off point. And yes, that photo was absolutely drool-worthy. I obviously succumbed to it.

  43. Alex

    “vegetables boiled to death,” “assaulted with too much cream,”

    …This perfectly describes my version of your ‘baked potato soup’. After the second warming-up however, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The addition of some rosemary really did the trick.

    I reckon it’s time to have a crack at the ‘mushroom and farro’ recipe.

    Keep up the good work!

  44. Emily

    I made this tonight, but I used one cup of rice instead of farrow. Oh, and I forgot to add the sherry vinegar. It was really delicious, despite my changes. My husband had two bowls and is looking forward to leftovers tomorrow for lunch. I’m not much of a soup person myself, but making this into a stew by doubling the rice was perfect for a cold winter night.

  45. The soup looks great but what I came here to say was: thank you for that Everyday Yellow Dal recipe! I have made it a bunch of times now, and my husband and kids love it. I serve it with brown rice and raita and some kind of sauteed green for the grownups. It’s so tasty and easy and it’s really nice to have another recipe that counts as a tried and true family favorite. Which, with my kids, isn’t always easy to find. So thanks again.

  46. We are soup junkies at this house so this will have to be made. And I am embarassed to have noticed today that 90% of our favorite and most often made meals come from your site. I also rave about your site to anyone that is looking for good recipes…. I think I’ve become a Smitten Kitchen groupie… and my mother had such high hopes for me.

  47. sarah

    soup is DEElicious. we had soup the other day in the midst of a 40C heatwave for exactly the same reasons – busy (brains fried), cook at any time, better as it ages- completely vego. chick peas,and other pulses in the pantry, all vegetables in the crisper bin chopped, water, pressure cooker magic. then shredded cabbage and pasta noodles added at the end. all cooked in a few minutes in the early morning before the furnace outside is stoked. soup is fab, like you. xxxxxxxxxxx

  48. Eva

    That sounds like an excellent soup. It really is funny how once you have something that you haven’t had in quite some time and end up truly enjoying it, you can get mildly addicted to it. That happened to me and stew a few weeks back. If you’re looking for a unique new soup to try, I’d recommend avgolemono. It’s a Greek egg-lemon-chicken soup that is rich and refreshing and entirely wonderful.

  49. lacey

    You mentioned that you used Farro, so I did the same. Unfortunately, farro takes a WHOLE lot longer than bulgur, which I wish I knew. It takes a lot more time. It would be helpful for instructions for the ingredients used.

    1. deb

      lacey — Sorry it didn’t cook up well for you. I understand that the range in farro cooking times is 20 to at most 40 minutes, so I thought there wouldn’t be problems. (I realized after the fact that I had a quicker-cooking variety, that was ready in 20 so a bit overcooked by 40 minutes.)

  50. Marissa

    I just made this tonight, and it was delectable. I subbed a lb. of ground beef for the farro (blame my father), was too lazy to look for out of place dried ‘shrooms at the store, and my whole family loved it, including my 10-year-old sister. I worship your site now from the many first round successes I’ve had. Though I’m only 15, I know a good quality site when I find one.

  51. I’m such a huge soup fan – this sounds amazing! I have been using a ton of barley lately (mostly just because I have a ton of barley) – and this sounds like a great and simple way to break out of the “same old” but stay with the comfort. Thanks for the ideas and inspiration! ~Jill

  52. I love that this isn’t a creamy soup.
    Too many mushroom soups get drowned in cream and the flavors aren’t let to shine. The deep color of it (probably partially from the tomato and the beef broth) is absolutely stunning too.

    Thanks for sharing!

  53. Sarah

    I made this last night for dinner as it’s so cold here and I was totally inspired by your post. It was so delicious!!!! I did use red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar since I didn’t have any sherry vinegar. I can’t imagine that it made a huge difference. Also, used pearled barley rather than farro. It was absolutely perfect! I fed four adults with it and there were zero leftovers. I think next time I might use a couple more cups of broth since the fresh french bread we ate with it was used to soak up soup and some of us ended up with piles of mushrooms rather than mushroom soup about halfway through. Thank you so much for a fabulous recipe!

  54. I have been hooked on soups at an early age when a Romanian grandma would brew them daily in a cramped kitchen with a toddler sitting and watching in wonder the magic of making soup happen.

    Mushrooms and farro sounds like a delightful combination. Keep on going with the love for soup!

  55. Nancy

    I am a first time commenter and wanted to let you know that I read this just after you posted, and immediately went to the store for mushrooms to make it. Thank you for the inspiration and recipe. Yumm!

  56. ctown

    My co-workers make fun of me because I eat canned soup every day for work, so when I saw this post, I had to try it! I made this last night for dinner and it was very, very good! I think maybe next time I will put it in the fridge immediately after I make it because I left it out and the farro soaked up a lot of the juice and wasn’t really soup anymore! Super tasty though. Thank you for a great, easy recipe.

  57. Laura

    Just finished making this. Perfect thing for our umpteenth snow day. I love soup – eating and making it. But this is one of the best! I had barley on hand so used that instead. Mixed shitake and creminis for fresh and a mix of dried (Costco). I can’t get over how good my apartment smells!

  58. I’ve never been a huge soup fan, but I’m currently traveling in Morocco and I have to recommend some Moroccan soups to those looking for a soup-conversion experience. When I arrived, I’d at least heard about harrira – yummy tomato soup with parsley and chickpeas, ever so slightly spicy in its best incarnations – but the best by far was a magical pumpkin soup (of which I do not even know the name… whoops). It’s made with copious quantities of ginger, carrots and zuccini, a few tomatoes, and a tiny splash each of olive oil and millk – and it is amazing. It is so much better than the sum of its parts – this from someone who doesn’t even much like any of those parts on their own – and probably preposterously healthy. So Deb, if you decide to keep the soup-hits coming, please – consider making some pumpkin-ginger soup.

  59. I made this tonight with pearl barley and it was spectacular! So amazing that I’m glad my husband doesn’t like mushrooms because there’s more for me! My daughter snagged a bowl, too and gave it a hearty thumbs up. I increased the barley to 3/4 cup, and added perhaps an extra half pound of mushrooms, but otherwise left it as is. I am looking forward to feasting on this again tomorrow while I watch snow falling outside my window in central Texas! For anyone on weight watchers, the recipe (as Deb has written it) is only 8 points for a 2 cup bowl! I added 2 tablespoons sour cream and a dash of dill to the second cup for an extra point of deliciousness!

    Thanks, Deb! Oh, and that little monkey of yours just gets cuter by the day! Gah! Melt my heart in this cold weather, why don’t ya!

  60. Katie

    I swear, you must be reading my mind! I have hated soup for most of my life for all of the reasons you listed above. Until I came down with what I can only describe as “the plague” about three weeks ago, and now I’m downing soup like a crazy person. I find that the clear, simple, flavorful soups are the best (and the only meal me, my diabetic-bad-foods-loving dad, and my vegetarian-reduced-carb-dieting sister can agree on). Tonight I made onion soup, this weekend I am sooooooo making this!

  61. tanya

    Made this last night and loved it! I added two potatoes, chopped, in the last 10 minutes or so. Only had 2.5 cups chicken stock, so used plain water for the rest. Used pearled barley.

    I thought it a bit acidic at first, but after a couple of hours (cooked in advance – one of great advantages of soups: they only get better with time!) the flavors settled down and mingled nicely.

    We ate it with sour cream and dill. My 13-month old loved it!
    thank you, Deb, for another great recipe!

  62. My husband grew up eating soup all the time so he’s thrilled whenever I make a big pot of it. He’s not a farro fan, though, much to my regret, but he does love absolutely everything mushroom related!

  63. I found you through another friends blog back in October with the spiced applesauce cake and in setting up a link and passing on an award- I found the baked potato soup yesterday… It has been extremely cold in Phoenix and that just hit the spot!

    I have loved mostly the desserts- although I am on a mission to find simple, delicious and nutricous food to cook. Keep it up! My recipe book is getting stretch marks. Thanks!

  64. Britney

    This dish looks lovely! I cannot wait to try it buuut as this is superbowl weekend, do you have any “dude-friendly” dishes? I do not have much cooking experience and would like a dish that I could whip up quick and still impress the crowd (hopefully more than all of the girlfriends that are baking/cooking experts!) Thanks! Love your website.

  65. That is the best looking mushroom soup ive ever seen, and by the looks of it you are or you have one of the best photographers and backdrops in the business. Great pics, now I can’t sleep and want some of that soup!

  66. I have made a very similar soup before (with barley, no carrots and lemon juice instead of the sherry vinegar) and really liked it. A trick I like, though, it to puree half of the soup. I like how creamy it is afterwards, but there’s no cream in the recipe! :)

  67. Jen

    Great idea to layer the mushroom flavor by using both dry and fresh mushrooms…and a shot of sherry never hurts. Thanks for offering a vegetarian option for the broth.

  68. Awesome! Had it with Lobster Mushrooms tonight and it’s delicious! It makes all those days of mushroom hunting come back to me 6 months later. It’d probably be great with Morels and Chantrelles as well. I love it!

  69. Michele

    I just made this tonight and it’s amazing! I’ve recently become a great lover of mushrooms since making your mushroom lasagne several months ago.Your Mushroom Bourguignon? Sublime…and those roasted ‘shrooms in the garicky puddles of butter? awesome. Now this..OMG. Thanks Smitten for sharing your gorgeous, inspirational and delightful kitchen.

  70. Charlene

    Made this last night and just realized I forgot the sherry vinegar at the end. I am still on the fence about sherry vinegar and do wonder if I just haven’t found a good brand. Would really, really appreciate anyone’s recommendations for a good brand. Anyway, this is deelicious! The only farro I found was also called spelt on the package. It cooked fairly quickly. Thanks for yet another winner, Deb!

  71. NancyNS

    I made this the night before last, and we ate it last night. It was hearty, chewy, rich and delicious! I threw in the end of a bag of baby spinach, and that was good, too. I am having the last bit for lunch today – and I can’t wait!

  72. Love to see you making soup, as that is my specialty and personal favorite! I noticed a bunch of readers at The Kitchn tried to re-nominate you even though you were already a winner in a year past. You’re still my tops (and apparently all of theirs, too)!!

  73. Charity

    I made this on Wednesday as Chicago was digging our way out of snowageddon of 2011! Perfect to escape the 20 plus inches of snow outside my condo’s door. :-)

    I skipped the sherry and sherry vinegar as I hate sherry, and substituted a 1/2 cup of white wine instead. I skipped the beef broth and used water with Rapunzel vebetable bouillon cubes as I am don’t eat meat. I also skipped the tomato paste as I did not have any and I was not going out into that 20 plus inches of snow to get some. And I accidentally doubled the pearled barley to one heaping cup. But besides all of that, this soup was so so so good! Really hearty with lots of flavor and depth. Delicious! Will definitely be making again.

  74. lacey

    so, after whining about the farro cook time, I realized I should’ve put a sock in it til I actually ate it. SO delicious and the add on time from the farro actually just increased the flavor. I topped it with big hunks of bread, then shredded aged swiss and gruyere and baked for a few minutes. Oh my, what a hearty treat!

  75. This sounds excellent. I’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian chili in the past couple of weeks, so something a little more slimming is definitely needed (also to balance out all of the ice cream I’ve been making).

  76. Lindsay

    Thanks for the inspiration. I made a heartier soup by quartering the mushrooms and adding only 4 cups of stock instead of 6. Really good!

  77. carrie

    Ive got some of the non-quick cooking farro laying around. Think I ought to cook it first, and then add it? This stuff seems to take FOREVER to cook!

    looks amazing, cant wait to give it a try up here in snowy Boston…

  78. Maya

    Made it Sunday for dinner. The men at the table asked for seconds right away. My husband enjoyed more of it for lunch next day, adding crumbled feta. Not having sherry vinegar, I used white wine vinegar. This was my intro to farro – it’s really a lot like barley, but less ‘gluey’. Loved the soup myself. All gone now.

  79. While making this soup this afternoon, I reached into the fridge, pulled out the tube of tomato paste and squirted away – only to realize that what I had actually squirted into the pot was harissa, not tomato paste! But I added the tomato paste and proceeded, and I have to say – it’s pretty great with the bit of spice!

  80. I will be absolutely making this tomorrow night! I woke up a morning a few weeks ago and read an article in the newspaper about the health benefits of farro, I then proceeded to go on the net and look for a farro recipe. I came here first of course and what did I see?! A newly posted recipe for a farro soup! We’re on some sort of brain link…

  81. Maxwell

    I decided to try to overcome my immense dislike of mushrooms with this soup, and I may have partially succeeded. The flavor is good, but the mushroom texture still puts me off a bit. I didn’t have sherry on hand, though I don’t know how much that impacted the taste. I’d like to add some spices to this…and possibly make a (soy-)creamy version.

  82. Mariam

    Yum! This was great – doubled the farro like you mentioned, subbed chicken stock for beef and red wine for sherry since that’s what I had on hand, and it came out delicious!

  83. Anita

    This soup was very good! I used red wine for sherry wine and red wine vinegar in place of sherry vinegar. I doubled the farro, which made the soup very thick and chunky, which is great if you like this kind of soup. I added some spinach in at the end and it worked well. I had some leftover sour cream and following your suggestion – I topped it with a dollop. I would definitely recommend adding it in. It harmonized the balance of flavours.

  84. Chelsea

    Deb – Finally got around to making this soup this week. SO delicious. I made a few modifications: 1) since I couldn’t find the dried mushrooms, I used 6 oz of Portobella instead and I think they really added to the flavor 2) for those looking for a sherry substitute, I used a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a few tablespoons of cherry juice, and a little bit of sugar.

    Thanks for posting! Love your site and I’m excited you’re writing a book!

  85. Anna

    I made this soup this weekend. Quite tasty BUT I’ve cooked farro once or twice and this time it did not puff up like the previous times. Should I have cooked it separately first? Thanks.

  86. Natalie

    What could you suggest as a good substitute for the farro? I’m gluten free, but this soup sounds delish. Brown rice, perhaps?

  87. Harriet

    Any suggestions for substitutions for the carrot (I’m not wild about them)? Or should I just leave it out?

    I’m looking forward to making this this weekend! My husband is out of town, and he hates mushrooms (he’s wrong, but nobody’s perfect), so I’m taking advantage of his absence to try this recipe. :)

  88. Amy R.

    Made this multi layered, rich soup tonight. Wow! Used vegetable and mushroom stock and added a bit of rosemary. I am sorry that I didn’t add the little bit of tender swiss chard left in the garden. It would have been perfect. Not that is wasn’t the way that it was. My husband asked me to put it on the regular rotation. Served it with a nice salad and some dense bread–along with the suggested dilled sour cream (soy sour cream) to spread on the bread–not in this fabulous soup.

  89. Spymom

    Made this soup last night! OMG! It was fantastic. I used freshly made chicken broth and added mushroom-soaking liquid in. I did not have any sherry so I used sherry rum pappers sauce I brought from Bermuda forever ago. That gave the soup a nice kick! Thank you Deb. Your blog became my recipes central, it is far more superior from all others!

  90. Rachel

    Yum! Made this with barley and fresh mushrooms – not button, the brown ones that look slightly gourmet but are not portabello. I obviously don’t know my mushroom terms very well. I also used red wine instead of the sherry and added some chopped parsnip. So hearty and good!

  91. Julie

    Absolutely delicious, both as dinner and as lunch leftovers. I can’t get over how savory and filling it was, despite being so, so healthy. This recipe is a keeper!

  92. Cristina

    Made this tonight – yum! Next time, I’ll add 2x farro and black pepper. It reminds me of the original Moosewood Cookbook recipe for Mushroom Barley Soup.

  93. Jamie

    I made this soup tonight with shiitake and cremini mushrooms and swapped the sherry for white wine and red wine vinegar instead of the sherry. I couldn’t find dried mushrooms so I just added some water to the beef broth. This soup was so good! I only made it for me, and ended up eating the whole pot (I did reduce everything). Will be making this again.

  94. Raman

    This is just a wonderful soup. In the interest of using up old bottles of seldom-used ingredients, I swapped in sweet vermouth for the sherry and apple cider vinegar for the sherry vinegar with no problems. In addition to a potato leek soup from Bon Appetit, 1992, this will be a standby in my kitchen. Thanks, Deb.

  95. Brenda

    I love dried mushrooms but sometimes find them still gritty in the recipe. I have rinsed them after soaking and still find odd bits of grit..all it takes to turn me off. I also drain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter which seems to take forever..any tips?

    1. deb

      Sherry is a fortified wine. Other fortified wines include marsala, port, vermouth… I think any of them would do. Or, you can skip it. There’s a ton of flavor here, even without it.

  96. Annette

    I made this last night – sing ho! for the advent of fall! I used “Dinkel” (according to wikipedia, that’s the name farro goes by over here) which I precooked for 20 minutes in the pressure cooker. Nice texture – done, and yet not at all mushy.
    Question: for soups, is it necessary to sauté the mushrooms? It occurred to me, as I was busily sautéing away, that I was spending time and energy getting rid of moisture that I would add right back in later on. Also, the crispness gained by sautéing is lost after the liquid is added. Soooooo – maybe one could just plonk the mushrooms in as is? (And if it’s flavorful browned bits we are after, maybe brown the onions?)
    What do you think?

  97. Adrianna

    So delicious and perfect for winter. I already made it once and I’m going out to buy more mushrooms after I get off work! Great recipe, thank you Deb!

  98. gigi

    Made this twice in two days. It is wonderful. With a dollop of sour cream or without, with a handful of spinach in the bowl or without. You can’t go wrong. Thank you.

  99. Carmen

    I made this soup, following your recipe, and it was a huge success! I added a large teaspoon of salt and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper to season, as the chicken stock I used was not well-seasoned, and served the soup with kale crisps and chives on top and paprika socca. Thank you for a lovely recipe…much enjoyed by everyone at my table!

  100. Sasha

    Dumb question, but may help some others as well. What can you do to salvage the soup if you misread the recipe and added 1/4 cup of sherry vinegar instead of sherry? I didn’t want to throw out the soup, so I just added more farro and broth to make it less sour. Will see how it turns out!

  101. RO

    I made this last night on a quest for a nice brothy and meatless soup. It was a lot of prep for me but alas there is a lot of chopping involved with soup. I went out of my way to track down the different mushrooms and sherry, although I read a lot of comments saying that substitutes worked perfectly well and this soup is not finicky. It was delicious! I think the leftovers might need some additional beef stock as the barley looks like it’s soaking up the broth.

  102. Roisin

    So good! I made this soup vegetarian with vegetable broth and since I didn’t have sherry or sherry vinegar I added balsamic vinegar to taste. The flavor is so rich and delicious. Everyone who tried it loved it, and it’s now in my meal rotation

  103. Cathy

    Very excited that I stumbled upon this recipe, but was wondering about the use of dried mushrooms as opposed to fresh mushrooms. Is there a big flavor difference between the two, or another reason why you would suggest using dried mushrooms?

    1. deb

      The reason porcini are usually dried is that they’re very expensive and not grown everywhere. A couple dried go a long way to adding a tremendous amount of flavor to the soup. If you can find them, I think you’ll be glad you did. If you can’t, the soup should still be delicious.

  104. Michelle

    I made this a few nights ago, and it was perfect! So rich and deep-flavoured, and very comforting. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  105. Daria

    1/3 cup dried mushrooms could be very different, depening on how coarse your mushrooms are cut up. About how much is this in ounces? The typical package is about .5 or 1 oz, i think…

  106. Kelly

    Made this today after seeing the recipe pop up on twitter, simply delicious and exactly what the taste buds were looking for today. I used barley instead of farro and didn’t have any sherry so I substituted white vermouth. I also had some fresh thyme and threw that in about 10 minutes before it was done.

    This will definitely go in my rotation. I’ll remember to pick up the bottle of sherry my next trip to the liquor store as no doubt that will make it even tastier.

  107. Charleen Borger

    I love you, Deb Perelman!!! Smitten Kitchen has been my guilty pleasure for years. Thanks for following the gifts God has given you and making so many hearts and tummies sing. My daughter and I plan to see you in Portland next month!!
    What is the symbol at the top of this page, btw?

  108. Petta

    Just made this. Delicious!!! :) Substituted sherry (not available here) for half white vine, half apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of moscovado sugar added in. No beef broth in the freezer so vegetable broth it was. This is absolutely coming into the rotation this winter, can’t recommend enough.

  109. Hilary

    Made this two nights ago and just eating the leftovers. It made the whole house smell incredible! I like it even better after it’s sat for a day! I added a tad more sherry and some red wine, plus served with some gruyere cheese on top. Rich without the meat. Yum.

  110. Kristen Malcolm

    Could you add beef to this, and if so how would you suggest doing so? Brown some chuck stew meat and let it simmer with the soup?

  111. Debi

    Surprisingly “meaty” and delicious even with several substitutions. The sherry was too far back in the liquor cabinet ( first world problems) so I used Marsala. Couldn’t find dried porcinis so I used mixed dried mushrooms. And applying the theory that acid helps most things I served with lime wedges which made it perfect.

  112. Judy s

    Great recipe. I used to make something similar but instead of a grain (barley, farro, spelt, etc.), I added a can (or 2) of rinsed and drained low sodium cannellini beans. Adding the mushroom soaking liquid takes this recipe to another level. The ‘earthiness’ of the soaking liquid adds a meatiness and umami depth that cannot be duplicated. Last but not least, I could easily see substituting Marsala for the Sherry (especially since Marsala is a staple in my house whereas Sherry is not).

  113. Mary Becker

    I can’t believe I missed this soup the first time you posted it! Now I’m wondering if you have made it in your Instant Pot, and if so, what was your cooking time? Suggestions? Thanks, love your blog!

  114. Sabrina

    It’s good! I added spicy tomato jam (made from the garden) and subbed some miso instead of bullion (didn’t have broth on hand).

  115. Ellen

    Delicious version of a winter staple. I used farro as suggested and homemade chicken bone broth in lieu of beef. I must have run out of dried porcini, so I subbed dried shitaki and some other dried Chinese mushroom I had. And I used about a cup of dry mushrooms as they were already soaking when I rechecked the recipe for the correct amount. More mushrooms never hurt anything! The sherry vinegar I think is what set this recipe apart, giving it another level of flavor, which was more sophisticated.

  116. Lauren

    Any suggestions or cautions for freezing this soup? I’m heading out on a camping trip and think this would be perfect warmed up for dinner!

  117. Franziska

    I made this using freekeh and chicken broth and omitting the sherry vinegar which I didn’t have. Somehow I was not happy with the taste and kept trying spoonfuls over several hours until I understood what I was missing: two tablespoons of soy sauce worked the magic! A bit of hot miso paste (-> gochujang/sambal manis) made it even better! I’ll definitely file this as an Asian inspired, hot soup and might even add some pak choi or bamboo sprouts next time.

  118. Emma

    I instant pot-ted this last night! Worked well. Sautéed the onion and carrots for a few minutes, added the garlic, and added the farro to coat with oil. Then added everything else and cooked on high pressure for 10 min, natural release for 10 min, then manual release. A faster way to make one of our favorite soups!

  119. Leila

    SK does it again! I wasn’t sure the effort of finding sherry vinegar would be worth it, but it really does make the whole thing so delicious! Made as directed, added a little extra broth as the farro absorbed a lot of liquid. This was filling and satisfying. Hooray!

  120. Dawn

    If you wanted to up the protein content, what would you recommend as a meat of bean additive? Lentils, Chicken, Sausage? (I’m trying to avoid red meats.)

    1. deb

      Skip it; there’s enough else going on. I suppose blended roasted peppers might be… close, but again, just don’t think anything major will be lost without it.

  121. KJ

    Thanks for the Instagram inspiration! This came at the perfect time. We had all of the ingredients on hand and it came together quickly for a delicious dinner. I used shiitake and cremini mushrooms with a vegetable broth and went with pearled barley because that’s what we had in the pantry. We will definitely make this again.

  122. Meredith

    This was the perfect weeknight winter dinner. Prepped all the veg beforehand and just had to put everything together when we got home. I subbed in chicken stock (had homemade in the fridge) and wheat berries as I didn’t have any barley or farro- worked great. Will go into our regular soup rotation

  123. es

    Really delicious. I only had about 1/2 pound of mushrooms (mixed) so I upped by a little bit the dried.Sophisticated flavor; adding the grain (farro in my case) is brilliant.

  124. bitchincamero

    This was awesome! I Instant Pot-ed it like this:
    – Sauteed all veggies on high
    – Used closer to 1 cup of barley
    – Only added 4 cups of stock
    – Once you add all the liquid, 15 minutes on High Pressure, Manual release
    – Stir in 2 cups chopped kale along with the sherry vinegar

    Soooooooo good! And have plenty leftover for lunch today.

  125. BJ

    I was looking for a recipe which included farro, mushrooms and black beans and came across this. How do you think the addition of black beans to this recipe would work?

  126. Nancy A Smith

    Deb, this looks amazing — I love mushrooms! I’m gluten free, so would a good substitute for the farro be rice? Suggestions? Thanks!

  127. I made this using chanterelle mushrooms and homemade chicken stock and my husband thought it was beef and barley soup. This is incredibly meaty and satisfying. I used oloroso sherry, as it was the driest thing I had on hand. We’ll be making this again.

  128. Zara P.

    I’ve been meaning to make a version of this for several weeks, and being an unemployed 25-year-old with a crappy sleep schedule, naturally I finally got around to it at one in the morning on a Wednesday. I added cannellini beans, a bit of celery, fresh rosemary and sage, a pinch of red pepper flakes, more garlic, some nutritional yeast for umami, and used leeks instead of an onion and white wine instead of sherry (which I didn’t have). I also made my barley separately (partly because I wanted to make something else with it, too) and poured the soup over it to make a sort of stew. So like most soup recipes I make, it ended up rather a different beast than the recipe I started from, but still a very good beast! :P I think it’d be hard to go wrong here.

  129. april

    i love mushrooms. i love farro. i love soup. i love this site.
    i did NOT love this soup. not sure what went sideways as i made it as specified, but it was a big disappointment. maybe it’s the sherry? it seemed overpowering, with the vinegar. just sort of sharp overall, rather than earthy and soothing.
    in the years i’ve followed SK this is the only fail, though; so thank you for that!

  130. Julie

    This soup was delicious! So much more flavor than you would think based on the ingredient list. Will be making this again and again!

  131. Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum! Followed the recipe to a T and it was delicious – no need to change a thing! Reheats well the next day too! Cant wait to make this again!

  132. CS

    Whipped this up for dinner = SO easy and SO tasty! Used a heaping cup of barley, omitted sherry vinegar since we didn’t have any and added a couple tablespoons of fresh thyme about 10 min before it was done. Served with crusty rosemary bread. YUM!

  133. Deb, this soup knocked it out of the park–we didn’t miss the meat at all!! Between the beef & ‘shroom stock in the freezer I used about 8 cups with the increased aromatics & such. It came out nice & thick. Also add from Spice House tomato & porcini powders I added along w Trader Joe’s Mushroom Umami. I use TJ’s Calabrian Chili peppers (that stuff kicks butt for heat!) and a splash of good fish sauce at the end along with the sherry vinegar. Closer to a 1/2 cup of dry Sherry.
    I added one of each:
    languishing leek
    perishing parsnip
    forgotten fennel
    gaggle of garlic (about 6 LARGE cloves)
    stupendous savory (along w a chorus of other herbs)
    medley of mushrooms (shitake, crimini,oyster,dried porcini

  134. Jennifer

    I made this tonight and it was heavenly! Full of flavor, hearty, delicious! I made a few swaps based on what I had (forgot to buy the porcinis, red wine, balsamic vinegar) and I added kale to up the veggies.

  135. Stephanie Spinella

    Will fresh porcini add the same oomph as the dried? I was lucky enough to find some in my backyard yesterday… I made pasta last night with them and it was great. Still have more and going to try in this soup. I just wondered if you had an opinion. Thanks!

  136. Ronnie

    Have you made this the day before? If so I wondered if the farro gets mushy sitting around a day in the frig. I am having a dinner party and prefer to do as much before hand as possible.

  137. This is my 2nd time making this soup, I came across F&W Grace Parisi’s Mushroom & meatball soup. Deb, this version has SO much more flavor than the F&W. People who visit New Orleans wonder why our food taste so good–well that’s because we put FLAVOR (i.e. the holy trinity, GARLIC) and the food goddesses know what else in every dish. I just can’t comprehend why dishes don’t call for garlic at least! THIS recipe has umami galore in it (Deb, I’m making you an honorary New Orleanian because you understand spice & flavor)!
    I didn’t have the dried porcini’s (I could have SWORN I did–those damn gremlins again). but I do have & used dried porcini powder. I also cooked the mushroom stems in my stock (homemade no store bought). I DID make the meatballs & used farro instead of barley (its nigh impossible to find small amounts these days). Such a lovely soup!

  138. Mary

    ok, Deb — a decade ago (!!!), in the comments for this mushroom/farro soup, you talked about a cabbage/tomato soup you were going to perfect and post — but here we are in 2022, and nothing is showing up on Google — WHERE IS IT? I have the cabbage sitting right here, we’re eating the mushroom/farro (well, barley) soup tonight, and the cabbage is up next! SPILL!

    1. deb

      Haha the problem has been that nobody ever wants to eat it here and so I have little excuse to make it. I would start with this, skip the sugar, skip the ketchup, and play around. It makes a ton, if I remember. I think I added rice at one point, for more of an unstuffed cabbage soup. Definitely celery with the carrots.

  139. Nancy

    So yummy. Just one question: How do we keep the dried mushrooms from becoming rubbery? Aside from their texture, we loved this!

  140. Mary

    Love love love this! I stirred some kale 🥬 n the second time and a little line squeeze, the bright green and love of kale worked for us! But it was amazing in its own!

  141. Chris A.

    I made this as written, using dried porcini, fresh crimini and pearled barley. My only substitution was a champagne vinegar for sherry vinegar, bc it’s what I had. For the broth. Used 2 cups of bone broth, 2 cups of ‘more than gourmet’ reconstituted roasted chicken stock, and 2 cups of water plus a Knorr bouillon cube. A bit of a hodgepodge broth but flavorful.

    This recipe looked compelling and I really wanted to like it. But fortunately it just wasn’t for me. I love mushrooms, and the rest of the component parts for that matter.

    It’s essentially a broth and barley soup, with a slightly tangy broth perfumed with porcinis, and then and a heavy dose of vegetables piled in. The fresh mushrooms actually kinda bothered me from a texture standpoint. Perhaps it was too healthy for me. ;-). I tend to think more body and richness (ie, a cream based) compliments the mushrooms better.

  142. Martha Foley

    This recipe worked out perfectly for us last night. The depth of flavor was amazing. This is a keeper!
    I have your cookbooks and love them so much that I give them to friends.

  143. KBL

    I made this yesterday. I’ve had the page open to this recipe for maybe a month now. I had to track down the various components. (I don’t go out a lot to shop and some things weren’t as easy to find). I made only a couple of adjustments. One was a splash of Worcestershire sauce, and had to use a dry white wine as I didn’t want to buy (& couldn’t easily find) any dry sherry. And as we gave a definite carnivore in the house, I added some very thinly sliced beef round that I’d chopped and sauteed with onions, and frozen previously with this recipe in mind. My adjustments could be ignored. I didn’t really notice the beef. The Worcestershire sauce only made a slight difference though discernible.
    The comments were positive, and the carnivore went back for seconds. The other person had been out so had less, as she’d eaten out for lunch.
    I’m having it for a late lunch today!
    I served it with a whole grain bread that had seeds, toasted with garlic butter, olive oil. I wasn’t sure it’d be as filling as it was, but it was quite hearty!