Hurricane Sandy, Comfort Food {Recipe: Mushroom Barley Soup}

It seems like we jumped from October to November in the blink of an eye since Hurricane Sandy so rudely came ashore along the Southern New Jersey coast right before Halloween.  I imagine you've seen the photos of the devestation of our beloved shore.  It breaks my heart every time I see the homes and businesses that have been lost, not to mention some of our favorite spots to visit during the summer months.

It is going to take a very long time to bring the shore back, and I'd like to encourage you to help in any way you are able.  I'm listing some websites that will gladly welcome donations for those who are too far away to come and volunteer in person.  I'm also going to share a website that will have on-going volunteer opportunities for those who don't mind getting their hands dirty while they help those who are trying to recover some kind of normal right now.

Here is a list of websites that are working to assist those who have lost so much as a result of Hurricane Sandy:

ONLINE monitary donations can be made at the following links:

To Text $10 to the following organizations:
  • Community Food Bank of NJ: FEEDNJ to 80888
  • Salvation Army: text “SANDY” to 80888
  • United Way: text “RECOVERY” to 52000
  • Red Cross: text REDCROSS to 90999
If you live close enough and are able to volunteer, please check out the Jersey Cares website.  They have a lot of listings for helping with Hurricane Sandy relief as well as other volunteer opportunities in our state.

We were fortunate enough to only lose electricity for 6 days... while those 6 days were not the most comfortable and we did have a generator, it was a bit challenging.  My office was back up and running by generator fairly quickly, so My Boys had to go to work with me for a few days... they ended up cancelling school for a total of 8 days due to some of the schools being without electricity.  Thankfully, they went back to school this past Thursday and we are on our way back to normal.  Much faster than those who live farther South of us.

Once we had our electricity back, cooking and eating at home was a priority.  I didn't want to totally restock my kitchen right away with a Nor'easter on the way, so this weekend was my chance to really get back into the swing of things.

I actually made a menu plan for the coming week, and to get started I made a soup today that will enable me to have healthy lunches to take to work.

Mushroom Barley Soup with Extra Veggies
I love a thick, hearty soup and this one was inspired by a recipe from an Eating Well cookbook that has been on my shelf for awhile.  I picked up the The Essential EatingWell Cookbook, some time ago and even flagged a bunch of recipes to try from it... then, as sometimes happens, things got busy and it go reshelved until now.

The recipe was for a larger amount of soup than I wanted since this is really for me to have as a lunch each day.  Oh, I'd share it with my family, if they were interested... but, this one is really all for me.  Full of truly healthy veggies and barley, for a stick-to-your-ribs so you feel satisfied feeling.

I adapted it in a few ways because of my personal tastes but, I had to include the butternut squash from the original recipe... that ingredient intrigued me because it seemed kind of random.  But, once I tasted it all together, it made sense... the contrasting sweetness of the squash to the savory mushrooms and barley simply worked perfectly.

With the chill of winter coming our way, this is a soup that you'll want to make to warm you from the inside out.

Mushroom Barley Soup with Extra Veggies

Mushroom Barley Soup (with extra veggies)

Recipe by PatsyK Original - adapted from The Essential Eating Well Cookbook
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1.5 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and saute about 5 minutes, until softened.
  2. Increase heat to high and add the mushrooms and allow to cook until browned and no liquid remains.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add flour. Stir to incorporate throughout the onions and mushrooms. Cook for about a minute.
  4. Add broth, squash, red bell pepper, barley and sherry (if using - it adds a bit of "tang", so you can omit if you don't care for that flavor). Allow to come to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes, partially covered, or until the barley is tender. Add the dill and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Serve hot.

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Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.


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