In a large, heavy soup pot, combine 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained, 1/2 cup diced carrots and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the barley is just tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Any longer and the barley will open too much and become mushy. For best results, you want a little “bite” and barley should retain its shape.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup diced onion and cook, stirring occassionally, until wilted, about 10 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons minced garlic and cook 3 minutes longer. Add 10-ounces of cleaned, quartered white mushrooms, and 6-ounces of cleaned fresh shitake mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring for 10 minutes. Add this mixture to the soup pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the soup for 20 minutes.
Stir in 3 tablespoons very dry sherry and 4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot.
Answer to yesterday’s Brainteaser: 15 years old. 5 years per syllable in each name.