Mushroom Barley Stew with Kale

As it’s still absolutely freezing outside, I’m still on my stew kick. And now that I know that mushrooms are packed with vitamin D, I’ll be adding them to even more meals than usual (especially during these bleak Seattle winter months). My main goal for soups is to get the most flavor in the shortest amount of time, since I’m usually not able to get things started until after I get home from work on weeknights, so I pack all the flavorful ingredients I have in. I bet this would be amazing in a slow cooker though, and I may have to try that next. The recipe below is a mixture of a number soup recipes from my books and favorites sites, with a few more of my favorite ingredients added (beer! kale!). If I did it again, I think I’d add carrots for a little more color, and maybe some shiitake or porcini mushrooms for a little different flavor.
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Mushroom Barley Stew with Kale

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 medium to large yellow onion, diced
2 leeks, ends and green removed, sliced into 1/2 inch disks and halved again
4 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 cup dry pearled barley
2 teaspoons dry thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 cups beef broth
4 cups of mushroom broth (or all 8 cups mushroom broth, if you’d like it vegetarian)
1 bottle of beer (I used the Redhook Winterhook, and would definitely recommend a dark beer)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped

Wipe out a large pot to dry it, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, and celery; saute for 15 minutes, until soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, barley, stock, beer, tomato paste, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the barley is tender.
Stir in the sherry vinegar, add the kale and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaves. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.
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