Helen’s Olde Lantern Mushroom Barley Soup

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Enhanced with curry, dried mushrooms and bacon, this beef-barley soup from long-gone Helen’s Olde Lantern in Blue Island, IL, was requested by reader John S. He remembered it having copious amounts of bacon. Well John, not really. The recipe calls for just a sprinkling. But you can always add more…

Makes 3 quarts


  • 1 beef shank, about 2 1/2 lbs
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1 pkg. or 1/4 ounce dried mushrooms
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1/4 lb sliced bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp each; salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Sliced fresh mushrooms for garnish


  1. Brown beef shank in large saucepot in oil. Add 12 cups water. Add onion and celery. Heat to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until beef is tender.
  2. Strain stock. Reserve. Remove meat from bones; set aside.
  3. Cover dried mushrooms with warm water; let stand about 30 minutes until rehydrated. Drain and slice.
  4. Cover barley with water in small saucepan. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes; drain. Stir rehydrated mushrooms and barley into stock.
  5. In 350 degree oven, cook bacon on rimmed cookie sheet, pouring off fat, and saving it, as it gathers, cooking bacon until crisp. Remove to paper-towel-lined plate and crumble. Set aside.
  6. Pour small amount of collected bacon fat into heavy skillet. Over medium heat, cook chopped onion and fresh mushrooms until tender. Stir into soup stock. Stir in curry powder, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Stir in reserved meat. Garnish each serving with sliced fresh mushrooms and crumbled bacon.

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