Mushroom Barley Soup Small Batch for One Person

Mushroom barley soup is right near the top of my “comfort food” list.  I remember my grandma making it when I was little (and she made the best soups).  Sadly, I don’t have grandma’s recipe. She was a taste, toss, and stir sort of cook). Nothing was ever written down! My mom still mourns not having her recipe for pickles.

However, this Tori Avey recipe comes close.  Grandma wouldn’t have used fancy mushrooms, so neither did I, but you can add them if you like.

Grandma was from Poland, and as Tori Avey points out, mushrooms were a popular food there because you could dry them and store them for later use.  Barley also grew well in that climate, and could be dried and stored for the winter when other foods were less plentiful. Mushroom barley soup was popular throughout the whole country, but since observant Jews had dietary restrictions (no mixing milk and meat), there were two versions of this soup. One with just vegetables (which could be eaten with sour cream) and one with meat (more on that below).

There’s no meat in this recipe, but I did use chicken broth.  If you want a vegetarian version, you can substitute mushroom broth or vegetable stock instead.

As is, there’ s not a lot of fancy ingredients, and it’s just the thing for a chilly fall or winter day when all you want to do is snuggle inside a warm blanket in front of a fireplace. And you haven’t got a fireplace!

Also, since I’m lazy about pot cleaning, I simplified it. Only one pot! Not two or three. And I made fewer servings, because 8 is too much!




Mushroom Barley Soup Substitutions and Variations

  • use vegetable or mushroom stock instead of chicken
  • add upscale dried or fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake or chanterelle
  • try it with flanken (short ribs, or spare ribs cut sideways with little oval bones)
  • deglaze the pan with a bit of sherry or white wine before adding the broth




More Mushroom Recipes

pork tenderloin with mushrooms and sour creamPork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Sour Cream

Prepared with a rich, creamy sauce boosted by the bite of Dijon mustard and piquant capers —both of which complement the pork beautifully. Fancy enough for guests. Simple enough for an ordinary Tuesday.

chicken with mushrooms and tarragonSingle Serving Chicken Recipe with Tarragon and Mushrooms

Tastes like you went to a fancy French restaurant, without the bill at the end of the meal. It’s ready in only 30 minutes. Sop up the buttery rich sauce with some crusty bread.

chicken mushroom skillet recipeChicken and Mushroom Skillet Recipe

The perfect answer to “I’m hungry and I want food now!” No marinating, no leaving overnight. And no separate sauce to make. The entire dish comes together in a single pan.

pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, and chicken sausagePasta with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Chicken Sausage

When you’re hungry, pasta is your friend. Meaty mushrooms, sweet chicken sausage, and earthy broccoli are a great combination. Don’t have those exact ingredients? Mix and match with spicier sausage, asparagus, more bell pepper, or sugar snap peas.

Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Sour Cream

The great thing about pork tenderloin is that it’s fancy enough for guests, but so easy and quick you can serve it on an ordinary weeknight.  Adding mushrooms and a bit of sour cream transforms the pork from plain to elegant. And, it’s done in about twenty minutes or so.  There’s very little fussing.  The only thing you have to cut up is a few mushrooms (and then slice the pork at the end).  You get a rich, creamy sauce boosted by the bite of Dijon mustard and piquant capers —both of which complement the pork beautifully.

Add some rice (I always make extra so I can just reheat it) and a simple salad and you’re ready to eat. In this case, I went with just some spinach and cucumber, topped with baslamic vinaigrette. And now, that I think of it, the balsamic vinaigrette would likely work well with the pork too. That’s really easy!

Make sure to get the pork tenderloin, not a pork loin roast. The tenderloin is long and skinny and weighs about a pound each.  You cook it fairly quickly on high heat. Think of it as the filet mignon of pork. The loin roast is closer to a pork version of roast beef. It’s much larger and rounder and you cook it low and slow.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, on to the recipe.  This is adapted slightly from an old New York Times Menu cookbook recipe. The recipe in the book called for pork chops (which you can also use if you like).  If you do that, cook them 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how thick they are. The original recipe called for a much longer cooking time, but the chops then were much fattier.

 




Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Sour Cream Substitutions and Variations

  • Use pork chops instead of the tenderloin (get the boneless center cut)
  • Make it a bit lighter with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Add a splash of white wine or Marsala (sweet) wine to the sauce
  • Toss in some scallions or some shallots or onions (skip the capers if you do)

More Pork Recipes

cider braised pork with sauerkrautCider Braised Pork Chop with Sauerkraut and Apples

A party for your taste buds. Sure, it’s a bit… monochromatic, but this dish is packed with flavor. The tangy sour kraut is a perfect foil for the sweet cider and apples. And it’s quick too.

apple glazed ham steakApple Glazed Ham Steak Recipe for One Person

Sure most people see ham steak and think pineapple. This is better. The ham stays firmer, and the glaze is ready in minutes.

 

honey mustard glazed ribsHoney Mustard Glazed Spareribs

Tender, succulent, and not too sweet, these ribs are ready in about an hour (they’re boneless).  Great for a holiday weekend. And the glaze is a dream.

 




One Pot Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

 

Adapted from a Jacques Pépin recipe, chicken with balsamic vinegar sauce is an easy and satisfying one pot meal.  There’s also a secret ingredient you might not expect (especially from someone known for French cooking).  It’s…ketchup! It deepens the flavor and provides just a little hint of spice and sweetness.  The balsamic vinegar adds a slightly tart, fruity tang that complements the sweetness of the ketchup and the cooked onions.

He used chicken breasts, but I find those tend to dry out (unless you’re really careful). Not to mention they’re costly, and don’t pack nearly as much flavor as chicken thighs do. So chicken thighs it is. Changing the type of chicken I used also meant altering the cooking method a bit. Instead of baking in an oven, I did a fricassee, meaning brown the chicken, add the liquid, and then let it cook on the stove top.

Chicken thighs have to cook longer than breasts do.  However, doing it my way means you only need a single skillet.  There’s no putting anything in the oven and no need to use two different pots (or worry if your skillet is oven safe).  That also means there’s a lot less cleanup. Less cleaning up is always a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

Two more slight twists. The original recipe called for shallots. I never have those around, and I wasn’t about to buy them for one recipe (you know how I hate that). So, I cut up some garlic and onions instead (since they’re kissing cousins so to speak). If you have shallots, or don’t mind buying them, go right ahead and use them. He also said to sprinkle the chicken with chives. I didn’t have that either, so I used some fresh rosemary.

As I type this, I’m wondering if I’m spiraling into Internet recipe comment territory: “Great recipe! I changed X, and Y, and Z, and then I didn’t follow the directions at all, but it turned out great!” Well, it did turn out great, so I guess it’s OK.

The whole thing is done in about 35 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight meal when you don’t want to fuss (because you just want dinner).




More Chicken and Balsamic Vinegar Recipes

balsamic vinaigrette chickenBalsamic Vinaigrette Chicken For One

Just two ingredients, and you have dinner. I got this idea from a friend’s old sheet pan recipe.  Lots of flavor, very little work.

 

strawberry balsamic grilled cheeseStrawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A sophisticated new twist on an old childhood favorite. This grilled cheese sandwich adds strawberries for sweetness and balsamic vinegar for a fruity tangy bite. Delicious. And easy too.

strawberry spinach salad balsamic dressing feta cheeseStrawberry Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing and Feta Cheese

Fresh strawberries, lots of veggies, a zesty dressing, and no cooking. Perfect if you are in a hurry, or it’s too hot to stand in front of the stove.

 




Pan-Fried Steak with Mushroom Brandy Cream Sauce

Sure it’s the holiday season, and there are a lot of parties and fancy meals everywhere.  But sometimes (holiday or no) you just want to treat yourself even without a party.  Cooking for one doesn’t have to mean dull and boring.  Pan-fried steak with mushroom brandy cream sauce is rich, creamy, and just slightly indulgent.  The cream is velvety, and the mushrooms add an earthy flavor, while the scallions and garlic bring just a hint of sweetness to the sauce. A funny thing happens to onions and garlic once you sauté them; they transform from spicy to sweet.

All that and it’s still really easy to prepare. You can have a delicious, festive dinner in about twenty minutes.  A big payoff without a lot of work!

I’ve made the sauce with pan-fried steak, but it works just as well with a pork chop or a piece of chicken.  If you make it with a bone-in chicken thigh, start that about 20 minutes before you begin cooking the sauce, as it takes longer to cook than a steak or a pork chop.

If you’re going with the steak, start that at the same time as the sauce. Then take it off the heat and let it rest while you finish preparing the sauce.




I made this with brown jasmine rice and some string beans, but it would work well with potatoes too, or even just some crusty bread to sop up every last bit of the sauce.

Pan-fried Steak with Mushroom Brandy Cream Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Use shallots or chopped onions instead of the scallions (I grabbed scallions because I have a pot of them growing in my windowsill)
  • Exchange the brandy for white wine and toss the same sauce with pasta
  • Add nutmeg and serve it over chicken breasts
  • Make more mushrooms and eat them as a side dish

More Steak and Mushroom Recipes

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup for One

Cold Leftover Steak Salad with Goat Cheese and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Chicken and Mushroom Skillet Recipe

Stovetop Coq au Vin Chicken with Red Wine Sauce

 




Stovetop Coq au Vin Chicken with Red Wine Sauce

Coq au vin (or rooster in wine) is a classic French dish.  It’s flavorful, it’s rich, and it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare.  First, you season the chicken, let it sit overnight, then brown it, add vegetables, and braise it slowly.  Authentic coq au vin also requires lots of pots,  lardons, which are thick matchstick strips of bacon, glazed pearl onions, croutons, and finally toast points! It takes hours to prepare it properly.  It’s wonderful, but it’s also a major undertaking, and highly impractical for a weekday dinner.  In contrast, this stovetop coq au vin takes about half an hour to make.  Much better!

I have adapted this recipe from Pierre Franey’s 60 Minute Gourmet Cookbook. Being French he called it “Poulet Sauté au Brouilly” (or chicken sautéed in Brouilly wine). I say stovetop coq au vin or chicken with red wine sauce and mushrooms works just fine.

And, once you finish a bit of chopping and browning, stovetop coq au vin mostly cooks itself. You don’t have to fuss with it,  you don’t need to use half the pots in your kitchen, and you don’t have to clean them up either.  This version only requires a single skillet.

When choosing the red wine, look for one that’s fruity and flavorful, but not too tannic.  Wines such as Zinfandel, Brouilly, Beaujolais, or Merlot are fine (I used Merlot).  On the other hand, a Cabernet Sauvignon would be overpowering.




Stovetop Coq au Vin Substitutions and Variations

  • If you want, cook a few strips of bacon and add that to the chicken
  • Make it more colorful with some chopped carrots
  • Try different varieties of mushrooms, or a mixture
  • Use shallots instead of the onion/garlic
  • If you use the bacon, saute the onions/garlic/shallots in the bacon fat

More Chicken Recipes

crispy lemon chicken thighCrispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Three kinds of lemon, and a smidge of brown sugar add lots of flavor to this chicken. It almost tastes like it’s fried (but it’s not).  Great hot or cold.

 

chicken mango stir fryQuick Chicken Mango Stir Fry Recipe

A freezer-friendly quick dinner. Use frozen mango if you have it. If not, pineapple will do too (since this cooks quickly). Toss in the chicken and veggies, make a quick sauce and you’re done.

homemade chicken shawarma

Homemade Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce

If you can’t get your favorite Mediterranean takeout, make it yourself.  You don’t need a rotisserie or special equipment either. Just make it right in your oven.

 

chicken with mushrooms and tarragonSingle Serving Chicken Recipe with Tarragon and Mushrooms

A fancy French meal without going out (or paying a lot).  It takes only 30 minutes to make and uses a single pan. I confess even I wanted to lighten up the original recipe (which called for copious amounts of butter and cream). However, this version retains every bit of flavor!




Chicken and Mushroom Skillet Recipe

If you’re hungry, chicken thighs are a great answer to the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?”  You can get this chicken and mushroom skillet recipe from walk in the door from work to ready to eat in about half an hour.

And, it only requires one pot! Less clean up is a good thing, in my book.  You don’t have to marinate the chicken, or leave it overnight, or fuss with it.  Pan fry the chicken, slice the mushrooms, onions, and garlic, and let it simmer.

There’s no separate gravy to prepare either.  It creates its own sauce right in the pan.

The funny thing is, I “invented” (or thought I’d invented) this recipe one night from ingredients I had lying around.  It turns out that it’s nearly identical to a recipe in one of Jacques Pépin’s cookbooks.  I don’t pretend to be his equal, but if you’re going to “borrow” an idea from someone, start at the top!

Although, I will say that his recipe requires two pots and mine only needs one.  Yes, I do count the washing up necessary to make something (it makes a difference when you don’t have a dishwasher).

Serve the chicken with rice or crusty bread to sop up the sauce. The vegetables in the photo were just some frozen mixed vegetables that I microwaved with salt and lemon pepper.




Chicken and Mushroom Skillet Recipe Substitutions and Variations

  • stir a splash of dry white wine into the sauce (or use the wine instead of the chicken broth)
  • add 1/3 cup of frozen broccoli to the mushroom mixture
  • cut up the chicken and serve it over noodles
  • add some sliced bell peppers

More Chicken Recipes

crispy lemon chicken thighCrispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Crispy (like fried without the frying), citrusy, and wonderful either hot or cold. Wonderful for a picnic (make extra).

 

chicken mango stir fryQuick Chicken Mango Stir Fry Recipe

Asian-inflected with lots of colorful veggies and sweet mango. This is a quick stir fry that takes only a short time to prepare.  If you can’t get the mango, use pineapple instead.

chicken with basil peaches and gingerChicken Thigh Recipe with Peaches and Ginger

Sweet, drippy peaches offset by warm/spicy ginger and summery basil. Toss it all in a pan and bake. Super simple (and delicious).

 

chicken with mushrooms and tarragonSingle Serving Chicken Recipe with Tarragon and Mushrooms

Creamy, rich, and tastes super-indulgent (but it isn’t). It’s like going out to a fancy restaurant (without actually having to go out).

 




Goat Cheese Caramelized Onion Pizza

Sometimes, meals are carefully planned. Other times, it’s pure serendipity. I spotted goat cheese on sale at the market and grabbed some. When I got home, I remembered I had some leftover pizza dough in the fridge. I decided to put them together and make a goat cheese caramelized onion pizza.

You can approach this recipe two different ways.  If you make the crust yourself (not hard, but it does take time), it’s a weekend meal. Buy the crust pre-made (you can get it at grocery stores or even your local pizzeria), and it’s a 30 minute meal. So, dinner in half an hour!

I made my own crust (following Smitten Kitchen’s easy recipe), but if you’re in a rush, you don’t have to. By the way, she says to roll out the crust, but I find it works better if I just place it on the baking sheet and gently press outward from the center with my fingers. 

If you do make the dough, it makes enough for one generous dinner serving, or two lunch servings.  It will keep in the fridge for several days, so you don’t have to eat it all at once.  Take it out and let the dough come to room temperature before you start working with it.

Cooking, of course,  is often a process of taking what you already know about food and flavors, doing a bit of research (in cookbooks or online) and combining bits of ideas and techniques.  I often find myself taking bits and pieces from two or three recipes and putting them back together in different ways.

In this case, I started with the pizza crust recipe I already had. Then I added the goat cheese. I took the caramelized onions and the bell pepper from one recipe, the spinach from a second, and the garlic oil from a third.   You can always mix and match to suit your own taste, or the ingredients you have on hand (see more in the Substitutions and Variations section).

Also, I don’t normally post “in progress” photos, but the pizza looked so good I couldn’t resist!

goat cheese caramelized onion pizza_1




 

Substitutions and Variations for Goat Cheese Caramelized Onion Pizza

  • Use roasted red peppers instead of fresh
  • Try a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Add sliced mushrooms and basil
  • Substitute arugula for the spinach
  • Toss in some sun-dried tomatoes

More Pizza Recipes

white pizza without ricottaWhite Pizza Recipe Without Ricotta

Like white pizza, but not a ricotta fan? This recipe has no ricotta at all.

 

tortilla pizza for oneHomemade Tortilla Crust Pizza

A pizza shortcut! Topped with bell peppers and sausage. Quick, and delicious.

 

rosemary potato roasted garlic pizzaRosemary Potato Roasted Garlic Pizza

I like to call this “potato chip pizza.” A whole different take on the usual pizza. No tomato sauce, and easy on the cheese. The potatoes end up golden brown and crisp.

 




Pasta with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Chicken Sausage

This pasta with broccoli, mushrooms, and chicken sausage recipe is based on a recipe invented by Kimberly Chapman (from Eat the Evidence; she makes astonishing desserts and “Ace of Cakes” cakes too).

She had this wonderful English, locally raised bacon and fresh asparagus and decided to make pasta with it (her recipe is here).

It looked so good I wanted to try it.  But I didn’t have bacon (or asparagus).   I could have gone out and bought asparagus, but I’m not a huge asparagus fan, unless it’s drenched in Hollandaise sauce.  I did have some chicken sausage and frozen broccoli though.  So, I decided to follow her technique while changing the ingredients a bit.

I used chicken sausage instead of bacon, kept the mushrooms, added red bell pepper (as I had part of a pepper leftover from something else and had to use it up).  Then, I changed the cheese to Manchego instead of parmesan, because that’s also what I had on hand.

Tip:
When your chunk of parmesan, Manchego, or other hard cheese gets hard to grate with a box grater, use a microplane instead.  You can also save the rinds (or even buy them at the market) and use them for soup. Just put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. They’ll keep indefinitely.

Back to the recipe, you essentially, cook the sausage (or bacon), add the veggies, then the pasta, some chicken broth, and top it all with grated cheese.




More Pasta and Broccoli Recipes

oven roasted lemon garlic broccoli

Oven Roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli

Broccoli gets a bad rap for being bitter, but roasting gives it a sweet, nutty flavor, enhanced by the citrusy lemon and the mellowed garlic.

 

Lmab keema with potatoes and broccoliLamb Keema with Potatoes and Broccoli

Think of this as Pakistani shepherd’s pie. It’s good with beef or lamb, and comes together all in one pan.

 

quick and easy summer pastaQuick and Easy Summer Pasta

Ideal for hot, humid days when you don’t want to cook much, this pasta is great either hot or cold.  No mayo, so you can take it with you.

 

spaghetti spinach lemon cream sauceSpaghetti with Spinach and Lemon Cream Sauce

Leafy greens and citrus pair beautifully together in this light summer pasta.  Make it as is with spinach, or swap that for broccoli.

 




Single Serving Chicken Recipe with Tarragon and Mushrooms

This single serving chicken recipe flavored with tarragon and mushrooms will make you think you’ve gone to a fine French restaurant (without the big bill at the end of the meal).

I adapted the recipe from Pierre Franey’s 60 Minute Gourmet cookbook. Its official name translates to Fricassé of Chicken with Tarragon.  My friends and family used to call it “cholesterol chicken.”

The original recipe called for three tablespoons of butter and an entire cup of cream!  Much as I love butter and cream, that’s a bit…much.

So, I decided to make it a bit lighter, while also adapting the recipe to make it a single serving chicken recipe  instead of the original four.  I reduced the amount of butter and used canola oil instead.  Then, I replaced the cream with a mixture of Greek yogurt and milk.

It’s still a quick and easy chicken recipe and it still tastes great (though it’s certainly not low fat) and I haven’t sacrificed one bit of flavor.

Let’s call it Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms for One Person instead.

I made a larger recipe for my parents recently, with a few variations, since mom had different ingredients and onions bother dad’s stomach.  I used “better than bullion” concentrate, garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, and dried shiitake mushrooms.  My dad is not a big fan of chicken, but he certainly liked this recipe. He licked his plate clean! Mom insisted that I write down exactly what I did so I could repeat it.




Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms Recipe Substitutions and Variations

  • If you don’t have the yogurt/milk use the cream, or mix butter and milk together and melt it before adding it to the sauce (since butter is essentially solidified cream)
  • The original recipe called for fresh tarragon.  I bought some and found it tasted like licorice.  Since I don’t particularly like licorice, I wasn’t too happy about that! On the other hand, if you do like licorice, or fresh tarragon, use one small sprig.
  • Try using wild mushrooms, like shiitake or chanterelle instead of white button mushrooms; this also works well with dried mushrooms (reconstitute them with hot water to cover and let them sit for five or ten minutes)

Easy Recipes Ready in Under an Hour

 

The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet

Here’s the 60 minute gourmet cookbook I got the recipe from. My copy is battered, beat up, and has been loved to pieces. The meals are all fairly easy to make and fast. In addition to the chicken, I recommend the chicken in red wine sauce, the chicken scarpariello, shrimp in creole sauce, broiled lamb patties, london broil with sauce chasseur, and the tongue in dill mustard sauce (which is both tasty and super-easy to make).

Cooking with the 60-Minute Gourmet: 300 Rediscovered Recipes

More from Pierre Franey; these recipes were published in his newspaper column but hadn’t been collected in a cookbook. There are plenty of chicken dinners here too, such as baked chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta and herbs, Indonesian chicken breast, chicken with spicy mango barbecue sauce, shrimp with snow peas, and fettucine with goat cheese and asparagus.

 

More Chicken Recipes

stovetop coq au vinStovetop Coq au Vin Chicken with Red Wine Sauce

Standard coq au vin is complicated and time-consuming. This version speeds that all up and makes it accessible for a home cook.

 

crispy lemon chicken thigh

Crispy Lemon Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Great hot or cold, with a crispy, slightly sweet flavor, and three kinds of lemon. Think fried chicken with less mess.

 

Chicken Mushroom Skillet Recipe chicken mushroom skillet recipe

Pan fry the chicken, cut the mushrooms and veggies, and simmer. It makes its own sauce right in the pan.

 

chicken with balsamic vinegar sauceChicken with Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

An easy and satisfying one pot meal.  There’s also a secret ingredient that deepens the flavor and provides just a little hint of spice and sweetness.