From our friends at Green Willow Grains.
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.

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 (white, cremini, shiitake or a mixture thereof; I used 100% brown/creminis)
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 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. Drain porcinis and finely chop; strain mushroom-soaking liquid to remove any grit and add to pot along with the reconstituted mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until barley is tender. Stir in sherry vinegar; adjust seasonings and serve.