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

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Category: Small Batch Soup Recipes

Cuisine: Polish

4 bowls

mushroom barley soup


  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped (the baby ones are fine, just chop them in half)
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Heat the oil in a stock pot or Dutch oven.  Add the onion and cook until wilted and soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and mushrooms, spreading the mushrooms in one layer. Cook for two minutes, then flip the mushroom/carrot mixture and cook another two or three minutes until the vegetables start to caramelize and brown.
  3. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Now, add the chicken broth, barley, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for an hour until the barley is soft, but still chewy. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

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 Cream

Single Serving Chicken Recipe with Tarragon and Mushrooms

Pan-Fried Steak with Mushroom Brandy Cream Sauce

Pasta with Broccoli, Mushrooms, and Chicken Sausage

Chinese Chicken Noodle Cabbage Soup for One Person

I’ve been fighting the creeping crud and nothing helps fight germs better than a big bowl of soup, preferably spicy soup.  This Chinese chicken noodle cabbage soup is perfect. The spicy broth clears the sinuses, the garlic, ginger and chili sauce have antibiotic qualities, and it tastes good too.

I adapted the recipe from a recipe I found on Epicurious. It’s not just smaller quantities though. My version has less sugar, and is a bit spicier (I wanted the heat more than sweetness). Gotta fight those germs!  Also, since I didn’t have tahini handy (and wouldn’t want to buy it just for this), I ditched that and used peanut butter instead.  I didn’t have seasoned rice vinegar either, so I substituted the regular kind. Their recipe cooked the chicken by boiling it in the soup.  I decided I wanted more complex, caramelized flavor, so I cooked it with the cabbage.  And, since I didn’t have sherry I reasoned that since sherry was essentially fortified wine, that some red wine and a drizzle of honey would work just fine. It did!

This is enough for one generous serving, or two smaller ones, depending on how hungry you are.

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Noodle Soup

Category: soup

Cuisine: Chinese

one serving

chinese chicken noodle cabbage soup

Spicy chinese chicken cabbage noodle soup fragrant with garlic, chili garlic sauce, and scallions. Not too hot and not too sweet.


  • 1 large chicken thigh (or 2 smaller ones)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sherry (or use red wine and a drizzle of honey)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (divided)
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1 tsp peanut butter*
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 12 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 5-6 leaves cabbage, shredded or chiffonade**
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 oz long noodles, with water to cook


  1. Cut up the chicken thigh into strips and put them in a small bowl.
  2. Add the soy, sherry, and half the sesame oil to the bowl with the chicken.
  3. Let sit about 20 minutes.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the garlic, peanut butter, ginger, rice vinegar, and chili garlic sauce.
  5. In a large, sturdy pot (a Dutch oven will work nicely), heat the rest of the sesame oil, and the canola oil on medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and the scallions.
  6. Cook for five minutes until the cabbage softens slightly.
  7. Add the chicken mixture and cook another 3-5 minutes.
  8. Add the broth, increase the heat, and bring the soup to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn the heat down a bit and let the soup simmer for five minutes.
  9. While the soup is coming to a boil, fill a saucepan with water and heat to boiling. Once it's boiling, add the noodles and cook 5-8 minutes until al dente.
  10. Once the noodles are done, drain them in a colander.
  11. Pour the soup into a large bowl, and add the noodles.


*If you use unsweetened, natural peanut butter, add a little sugar or honey

** How to chiffonade:

Take the cabbage leaves and stack them on top of each other. Then roll them up like a cigar. Cut them across (the short way) so you end up with long, thin ribbons.

Chinese Chicken Noodle Cabbage Soup Substitutions and Variations

  • Add some sliced mushrooms, broccoli, or snow peas to the soup (when you cook the cabbage and scallions)
  • Substitute bok choy for the cabbage
  • Want it spicier? Drizzle the finished soup with some sriracha or more chili garlic sauce
  • Go with the original recipe and use the tahini instead of the peanut butter
  • Like it less spicy?  Use sriracha in the recipe instead of the chili garlic sauce


Tools and Ingredients for Chinese Chicken Noodle Cabbage Soup

Huy Fong Sauce Chili Garlic

This is great for lots of recipes: put it in Chinese eggplant with garlic sauce, chili citrus chicken thighs, sesame noodles, or add a kick to scrambled eggs or meatloaf. Or, mix it into mayonnaise for chili aioli.

Nakano Rice Vinegar

This is just about essential for Asian cooking. Use it in this recipe, or for an Asian cole slaw. Baste meat with it, or combine it with some soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and scallions for a quick dipping sauce.

Kadoya Sesame Oil

Another essential for Asian cooking, great for salad dressings, shrimp, or teriyaki. Use it in Chinese cucumber salad, or saute it with some spinach.


More Asian Recipes

Sichuan Chinese Chicken and Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

Spicy Sesame Noodles Recipe for One Person

Chili Citrus Chicken Thigh Recipe for One

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup for One

Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Small Batch)

I should probably refer to this pasta e fagioli soup as “blizzard soup.” The forecast called for up to 20 inches of snow (though we only got seven).  I was determined to keep the stove going and get a batch of hot soup. Besides, there is more snow coming tomorrow!

Therefore, I deliberately made this the “hard” way.  First, I soaked the beans overnight.  Then I cooked the beans and sort of followed a recipe from The New York Times.  I cut it in  half and added pancetta (don’t know why they left that out).

I even made my own vegetable stock.  If you spot potatoes and carrots in the photo, it’s because they were in the homemade vegetable stock recipe .   Neither one is traditional for pasta e fagioli soup, but I left them in anyway. Why toss perfectly good veggies? I didn’t include them in the recipe here though.

You can use vegetable stock, or chicken stock if you prefer. I would  have made chicken stock but I didn’t have enough chicken bones. And I certainly wasn’t going out to get some in a blizzard!

Don’t be put off by the long prep time on this recipe.  That includes soaking the beans overnight. You can speed this up by using my quick soak method. That cuts the soaking time down from 8 hours to only one.

If you’re really in a hurry, and don’t have the time or patience to soak and cook the beans for an hour or more, use a can of white cannellini beans instead. Make the rest of the soup, then add the can of beans.  Just cook them long enough to heat through.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Prep Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Total Time: 11 hours, 35 minutes

Category: soup

Cuisine: Italian

three or four servings

pasta e fagioli soup

A small batch of pasta and bean (pasta e fagioli) soup. Just the thing to keep your home (and stomach) warm on a cold day.


  • Beans
  • 1 C dried white beans
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • Soup
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 ounce pancetta (chopped), or you can buy it pre-chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (or about 1/3 tsp dried)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup pureed canned tomatoes
  • pinch sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Bouquet garni (bay leaf, 2 Manchego rinds, thyme spring, or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni


  1. Beans
  2. Pour the soaked beans, along with the water, into a large pot (a Dutch oven will do nicely).
  3. Add the onion and turn the heat to medium. Bring it to a soft boil (bubbling slowly,).
  4. You may see foam rising to the top. You can remove that with a spoon (it's not harmful, it's just not attractive).
  5. Add the garlic and the bay leaf (you can put the bay leaf in a tea ball so it's easier to remove).
  6. Simmer the beans for 30 minutes.
  7. Add salt to taste and let the beans cook another hour. Check to see that they're soft. If not, cook another half an hour.
  8. Taste the beans and add more salt if needed. Take out the bay leaf. Drain the beans with a colander over a bowl. Keep the broth, you'll use it for the soup.
  9. Soup
  10. Heat oil in dutch oven. Add the onion and cook for five minutes or until the onion softens.
  11. Add the rosemary, garlic, and pancetta.
  12. Cook for a minute. The scent should start to waft through your kitchen.
  13. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper
  14. Cook for 5-10 minutes.
  15. Add the bean broth you set aside, and the stock.
  16. Add the bouquet garni, Manchego rinds, and more salt.
  17. Turn the heat to medium-high until the soup boils. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer for half an hour.
  18. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes, until it's al dente.
  19. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
  20. Remove the cheese rinds and serve.


Use dried beans if you have them, and have the time. If not, this works with canned beans too. If you use canned beans, drain the can first. Place the beans, water, and the remaining ingredients from the bean recipe in your pot. Simmer for 30 minutes. Then move on to the rest of the soup.

You can tie the bouquet garni ingredients together (if you use fresh herbs). If not, put them in a tea ball. It makes it easier to remove them.

Substitutions and Variations for Pasta e Fagioli Soup

  • Save time and use canned beans
  • Try different kinds of beans: pinto, kidney, or cranberry
  • Use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock
  • Use bacon or pork fat instead of pancetta (I even used soppressata salami once)
  • Add one potato (cut into chunks) to the soup
  • Chop up a handful of spinach and add that with the pasta

More White Bean and Soup Recipes

Lentil Bean Sausage Soup

Moroccan Chicken and Bean Soup

Easy Italian Wedding Soup

White Bean Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes


Curried Chicken Soup

Fight the cold weather (and winter germs) with some curried chicken soup.  If you’re sick, the hot soup and the spiciness of the curry will help cut through the congestion and make you feel better!  If you’re healthy, you can enjoy the full flavor!

This soup is pretty low maintenance, there’s not a lot of active work involved. Just chop the veggies, add the stock, rice, and chicken, and let it simmer. And, for soup, it’s ready fairly quickly. It only takes a little over an hour to cook.  I’ve been fighting a lingering cough, so I needed soup. Specifically soup with curry or something spicy to cut through the congestion and fight those germs! So I turned to the Silver Palate cookbook and made curried chicken soup.  I think it’s working.

The original recipe says to use peas and defrost them first. I didn’t have any peas handy, so I used broccoli instead.  Also, in this case, I don’t think that defrosting first is really necessary. Frozen veggies cook fairly quickly, unless they’re all stuck together in the box.

Making this soup is much easier (and less messy) if you have a stick blender. Just put the blender in the soup, press the button, and puree it. Otherwise, you’ll need to strain it, put the solids in a standing blender or food processor and then add some cooking liquid. Full instructions are in the recipe.

If you have the hand blender, this soup requires very little effort.  Cut up the vegetables, add the stock, rice, and chicken, and just let it cook.

I’ve cut the original recipe in half, so it makes 2-3 servings instead of 4-6.  Eat one right away and freeze (or save) the rest for another day.

Curried Chicken Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Category: soup

Cuisine: Indian

two to three servings

curried chicken soup

A slightly spicy curried chicken soup with carrots.


  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (about one medium) onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chicken thighs (bone-in)
  • 1/4 C long grain white rice
  • 1/2 C half-and-half*
  • 5 ounces (about 2/3 C) frozen broccoli
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste


  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, carrots, and the curry powder. Stir that around to combine everything.
  2. Next, reduce the heat to a low flame (or temperature setting). Let the vegetables and curry cook on low for about 20 minutes. Stir the mixture every once in a while so it doesn't stick and cooks evenly.
  3. Add the stock, chicken, and the rice. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it's boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer (it should bubble occasionally). Let it cook for about 25 minutes until the rice and the chicken are cooked.
  4. Carefully remove the chicken (use tongs) and set it aside. Let it rest for 10 minutes until it's cool enough to handle. Once you can touch it, cut it up into small pieces and keep it separate on the cutting board for now.
  5. If you have a hand blender, stick it in the pot and puree the soup. If not, strain the soup into a bowl and put the solids into a blender or food processor with about one cup of liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more cooking liquid if necessary. Then put everything back in the pot.
  6. Add the half-and half to the pot (if using), along with the diced chicken. Discard the bones, or save them for stock. Add the broccoli (or peas) and heat the soup for 15 minutes until the vegetebles are cooked.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


*It's supposed to be creamy chicken curry soup. I forgot to add the cream. It was delicious without it. You can also add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top.

More Curry and Curried Soup Recipes

Easy Chicken Curry Recipe

Easy Canned Tuna Curry

Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Apples


Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Apples

There’s nothing better and more comforting than hot soup on a chilly, blustery day. This curried butternut squash soup with apples is perfect for cold fall or winter weekends when squash are plentiful. I had quite a bit of squash left over from making roasted cinnamon nutmeg butternut squash, so this was the perfect way to use it up.   I have adapted the recipe from The Silver Palate cookbook, with a few tweaks.

First, I cut the recipe in half, as the original recipe made 6 large servings.  Plus, I only had most of one squash left (not two!).  I also substituted apple cider for the apple juice called for in the recipe. This gives it more flavor than just plain apple juice.

One more note, I recommend that you use a mild curry in this recipe (not something super-hot and spicy as it will overwhelm the flavor of the squash and the apples). I have a West Indian curry blend which is more savory than spicy; it works perfectly. If you can’t get the curry, try a teaspoon of ginger and a teaspoon of brown sugar.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Apples

Category: soup

Cuisine: American

three to four servings

curried butternut squash soup with apples

An easy soup that's perfect for chilly fall or winter days.


  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 C yellow onion (about one medium-large), finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons mild curry powder (preferably West Indian)
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 C apple cider
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Melt the butter in a three quart dutch oven or soup pot.
  2. Add the chopped onions and the curry powder. Cover the pot and let the onions cook, on low heat, about 20 minutes.
  3. Peel the squash and cut it into chunks. You don't have to be too neat about this as you're going to puree the soup. The easiest way is to take a large, sharp knife and cut the squash in half (width-wise) and then into smaller hunks. Make sure you scrape out the seeds and discard them. I find a grapefruit spoon works nicely.
  4. When the onions are soft, add the stock, the chunks of squash, and the apple to the pot.
  5. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook (with the cover partially off the pot), until the apples and squash are soft. This should take about half an hour.
  6. Turn off the flame and remove the pot from the heat.
  7. Now, take a stick blender and puree the soup until it's smooth.
  8. Add the apple cider and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tools and Ingredients for Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Apples

Cuisinart  Immersion Hand Blender

cuisinart hand blenderThe original recipe called for straining the soup, then putting it through a food mill or food processor, and then pouring it back into the original pot.

Doable, but a pain in the neck, and it means two more things to clean.  The immersion blender is much easier to use, and a lot easier to clean up too.  You just pop off the end and wash it.


Chief West Indian Curry Powder

Flavorful, but not too hot, this curry blend comes straight from Trinidad.  It works well with butternut squash, a quick chicken curry, or over some cauliflower or roasted potatoes.

Oxo Swivel Peeler

Butternut squash is notoriously hard to peel, but this gadget makes the job a snap. Using this peeler, peeling a squash is no harder than peeling a carrot.

The little hole in the pointed end is great for removing the eyes from potatoes, or taking out bruised spots from veggies.  Oxo was originally designed for people with arthritis, so the handle is soft, round, and easy to grip.

More Butternut Squash Recipes

Roasted Butternut Squash with Brown Sugar and Vanilla

Butternut Squash Cream Sauce Recipe for One Person

Roasted Cinnamon Nutmeg Butternut Squash

Easy Italian Wedding Soup

I’m not Italian, so don’t hit me if this easy Italian wedding soup recipe isn’t authentic. It is, however, quick and satisfying.

There are plenty of recipes out there that require over an hour to make and a long list of ingredients. Sure there are times when I’m perfectly happy to spend an hour or more making soup, but there are other times when I’m hungry and I don’t want to wait!

This soup recipe goes from start to finish in about fifteen minutes.  It hardly even requires cooking at all.  Just dump, pour, and heat and you’ve got a fast, easy soup. It’s great when  you don’t feel like fussing.

Besides, something about soup is just comforting, especially on a chilly day.

All you need are a few simple ingredients: meatballs (frozen are fine, or make them ahead), chicken broth, a can of white kidney (cannellini) beans, parmesan cheese and some spinach.


Easy Italian Wedding Soup

Category: soup

Cuisine: Italian

one serving

easy italian wedding soup

Easy Italian Wedding Soup


  • Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 4-5 frozen meatballs (try Trader Joe's mini meatballs)
  • 1/4 C canned white beans (optional)
  • 1/2 C  spinach
  • parmesan cheese


  1. Add broth to saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Drop in the meatballs (straight from the bag), the beans (if using), and the spinach. Lower heat and simmer about 8-10 minutes, until meatballs are heated through.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

I had some chopped beef to use up the day I made the soup, so I whipped up a few meatballs  with some onion, garlic, bread crumbs, egg, and oregano.  You can use pre-made or purchased frozen ones if you like, it will turn out just fine! If you do buy meatballs, I recommend the Trader Joe’s party meatballs.

Also, there was a bit of cabbage left in the fridge, too little to do much of anything with, so I added that in too for some extra vitamins.

Substitutions and Variations for Easy Italian Wedding Soup

  • Use chicken to make your meatballs
  • Add some cooked sausage
  • Saute some garlic and add that to the soup
  • Use garbanzo beans instead of white kidney beans

More Soup Recipes

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup for One

Quick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup

Moroccan Chicken and Bean Soup

Red Lentil Carrot Soup