Two popular soup recipes on Lidia'sItaly.com are mushroom and barley soup and vegetable soup with fennel. The first recipe serves 6, while the second feeds 12 to 14 people.
To make the mushroom and barley soup, soak 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of warm water. Remove the mushrooms, and squeeze out the excess liquid before chopping into small pieces; set the water aside. Pour 8 cups of potato broth and the soaking water into a soup pot and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste along with the porcini mushrooms, 1 cup of barley and 8 ounces of sliced cremini mushrooms. Return the mixture to a steady boil. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the barley and mushrooms are tender. Uncover the pot during the final stage of cooking for a thicker soup.
For the vegetable soup, rinse 2 cups of white beans, and soak them in water overnight. Drain the beans, and bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the beans, two pork hocks, two large peeled potatoes, two large carrots and five bay leaves to the pot. In a skillet, saut? four cloves of finely chopped garlic in 4 tablespoons of olive oil until golden then add 1 cup of chopped peeled tomatoes and saut? for 10 more minutes. Add the saut?ed mixture to the soup pot, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for one hour. Remove the carrots and potatoes, mash them together, and return them to the pot.
Meanwhile, boil 3 quarts of water in a large saucepan, and add 1 pound of shredded spinach, 10 ounces corn kernels, 10 ounces fresh peas and 1 pound of finely diced fennel. Parboil the mixture for 10 minutes, and then drain it and set aside. Add the mixture to the soup pot containing the carrots and potatoes and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove the pork hocks and bay leaves before serving.