Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs


Grace Parisi has always been a fan of mushroom barley soup with beef that has been simmered until succulent. For a clever shortcut that still delivers deep flavor, she replaces the beef with meatballs made from a quick mix of sirloin, egg, bread crumbs and cheese.

Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs
Photo: © James Baigrie
Total Time:
40 mins


  • 4 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth

  • 1 cup water

  • ½ cup pearled barley

  • 1 large thyme sprig

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound mixed wild and cultivated mushrooms (stemmed and thinly sliced; or 3/4 presliced)

  • 1 large shallot (finely chopped)

  • ½ pound ground sirloin

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Sour cream (for serving; optional)


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the stock, water, barley and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the barley is nearly tender, about 18 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and shallot, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until tender and browned, about 8 minutes.

  3. In a medium bowl, combine the sirloin, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Knead the mixture until blended, then roll it into sixteen 1-inch balls.

  4. Add the meatballs and mushrooms to the soup and simmer over moderate heat until the meatballs are cooked through and the barley is tender, about 8 minutes. Discard the thyme. Stir the parsley into the soup and serve in bowls with sour cream.

Suggested Pairing

Bright, berry-rich Pinot Noir.

Related Articles