How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian Cooking. He had a soup recipe entitled Boiled Water, and I decided to use that as the base of a mushroom barley soup that loosely followed his recipe. I've changed the proportions of ingredients slightly. Here's what I did:
4 c. water
8 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb. mushrooms (I used a mix of button and shiitake), thickly sliced
1/2 onion, sliced or diced
1-2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/4 c. pearled barley (not whole barley)
Small pat of butter (could use olive oil to make it vegan)
Salt and pepper to taste
I love the way Mark Bittman's cookbooks are written. They are perfect for experimental cooks because the recipes themselves are often basic, but conducive to being modified to suit one's tastes. Normally I would use chicken stock in a soup like this (as any regular reader knows, I love homemade stock), but by combining two of the recipes from Vegetarian Cooking, I was able to make a completely satisfying vegetarian soup. You could add any vegetables you had on hand to this soup. If you weren't concerned about meat, you could of course throw in some chicken or maybe even smoked sausage. Be creative and enjoy!
*For an interesting discussion of what it means (and does not mean) to call a food system sustainable, see Katherine Gustafson's article here.