How beautiful and grand is a mushroom barley soup. Silky, satisfying. My family -- young and old -- will always appreciate and accept and voraciously consume such a soup (notice how we enjoyed one two years ago and also four years ago). The “Very Easy Mushroom Barley Soup,” from All Recipes, provided all we needed for an enjoyable meal. I believe in barley as an ever-reliable grain. All I have to do is cook it, simply, and we will all eat it, in heaps.

First, I sauteed my onion, carrots, celery, and garlic for 4 minutes, until transparent. After pouring in and boiling the mushrooms, vegetable-bouillon broth (instead of chicken broth), and barley, I simmered for 44 minutes. I added 2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to my final soup. And what a lovely soup it was.

And next, I made the “Cauliflower ‘Pasta’ with Peas & Ricotta,” from The Stone Soup, though I can’t quite figure out while she calls it a “pasta.” No one’s being fooled here; what we’ve got is incredible, cheesy cauliflower and peas, and that alone is enough to celebrate. I used one small, darling head of orange cauliflower, which I boiled for 6 minutes. Using good-quality, frozen, organic peas remains a proud option. I cooked these for 5 minutes. Fresh mint is a thrill and will always be a pea’s best friend.

Mixing everything with ricotta is such a smart and satisfying choice; the parmesan makes this a party. I added 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to this combination. We all loved it.

Mushrooms (1 lb.) = $3.52
Cauliflower (1) = $3.54

RECIPES: I can’t tire of the silky mushroom barley soup, nor will I turn away from cheesy cauliflower
enjoy the soup after about an hour of prep and cooking; cauliflower is ready in less than 30 minutes
TASTES: mushrooms + barley coat your tongue with the heartiest of silkiness; cauliflower + peas + mint are giggling children, best friended by their coating of cheeses

I’ll remain on my vegetarian route, and next time cook a baked tagliatelle recipe, inspired by 101 Cookbooks. This one will combine potatoes and cabbage and pasta (and more cheese!). See it when you return to my site on Monday, February 14.