Food Network star Duff Goldman shares his grandmother's recipe.

Mamo's Mushroom Barley Soup with Short Ribs


·         2 packets (2 oz.) dried mushrooms

·         6 large, meaty short ribs

·         3 whole celery stalks

·         2 large whole carrots, peeled

·         2 medium whole parsnips, peeled

·         1 whole onion, pierced 2 times with a knife

·         3/4 cup barley (or more if you want a very thick soup)

·         1/2 tsp. sugar

·         Salt and black pepper


·         6-8 quart pot, medium saucepan, coffee filter, colander or mesh strainer, bowl

Total Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes

Servings: 6

Place dried mushrooms in the bottom of a saucepan. Dried mushrooms are important here, they’ll give the soup a lot more flavor than fresh ones. You can find them in cellophane packages in the produce section of most grocery stores. Duff’s mom didn’t specify which kind of mushrooms to use, so I chose a combination of shitake and porcini, which gave a terrific flavor to the broth. Add 1 quart (4 cups) of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, remove saucepan from heat and let the mushrooms soak for 20 minutes.

While mushrooms are soaking, place the short ribs in the bottom of a large, heavy pot and cover with 3 quarts hot water. Bring to a boil, skimming the foam that rises to the top, till the water is fairly clear.

Add the whole celery, carrots, parsnips, and brown onion to the pot. Bring back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Drain the mushrooms by straining them through a coffee filter, reserving the mushroom soaking liquid in a bowl (use a mesh strainer or colander to hold the filter in place while you strain). Discard the filter, which will contain any residue that was left on the mushrooms.

Pour the mushrooms and the mushroom liquid into the soup pot. Add the barley, sugar, ½ tbsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. black pepper. If you’re sensitive to salt, you can reduce the salt to 1 tsp., but don’t skimp on it too much… it really helps to balance the sweetness of the cooked vegetables.

Bring soup back to a gentle simmer. Let it cook uncovered for 2 ½ hours, stirring every so often and adding water to the pot as needed to keep the soup from getting dry. In the end, you want the soup to be nicely thickened with a rich, meaty stock and tender, fall-off-the-bone meat.

When the soup is finished cooking, remove the onion and celery and discard. Remove the carrots and parsnips and slice them into rounds. Return the sliced cooked vegetables to the soup and stir. You can add more salt or pepper to taste at this point, if you need to. 

Either shred the meat and remove the bones, or serve one short rib per bowl of soup. Make the soup a day ahead and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to develop more. I recommend serving with a slice of rye bread and a little horseradish on the side.

A note from Duff’s mom:

This soup is best the next day so make ahead! It totally changes overnight. Really, it does! Do not exchange other meat for short ribs – they are sweet and fall apart – so tender after cooked. They’re the ONLY meat I’d use (except lamb if you want an Irish Stew kind of thing). Short ribs are considered flanken (from the lean cow flank) but the ribs are much more marbled than what’s called “flank,” and they make a much more flavorful soup. Cooking with the bones adds all kinds of deeper flavor than just a piece of flank meat. Don’t omit the parsnips, they add sweetness which is a good balance for the nutty barley. The soup is done when the ribs are so tender that they pretty much fall off the bone and shred easily with little effort. They can be served on the bone (which I prefer) or taken off the bone and shredded. If you try this you will love it but don’t mess around with it—it’s perfect like this.