Barley Soup with Blended Herbs and Meatballs


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (shitake, cremini and oyster), sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 pound parsnips cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1 10-12 ounce can crushed tomato
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Heat the butter over medium heat in large heavy- bottomed pot. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic, with salt and pepper to taste. Cook down until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. (At this point, soup can be made up to two days in advance.)
  3. Just before serving, add warmed mini meatballs.


  • If the soup becomes too thick, add water or beef stock to thin.
  • If you are chopping garlic and the recipe calls for salt, sprinkle the garlic with a little bit of salt before you chop. The salt will soak up some of the liquid and make it less sticky.
  • Use long-cooking pearl barley. It will release a velvety starch that enhances the broth.
  • If you burn soup on the bottom of the pan, don’t try to loosen it. Instead, transfer soup to a fresh pot. This will eliminate any remnants of a burnt taste.