Four-time undefeated boxing world champion and wellness expert Laila Ali is also a killer cook, and wants everyone to know it! Grab a copy of her cookbook, Food For Life, and get your body on a fitness and nutrition plan fit for the queen of the ring. This mushroom barley soup gets a protein kick from mini meatballs. Make a huge batch and freeze some for later!
Mini meatballs speckled with dill make this thick, stew-like mushroom barley soup a hearty starter or meal in a bowl.
The meatballs can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to add them to the soup. And why not double the meatballs and freeze them for future batches of mushroom barley soup? Or you could pop a few of them into some simmering bone broth, add a whole grain and greens, and an impromptu dinner is ready to put on the table. To freeze the meatballs, place them on a baking sheet with some space between each and freeze for 1 to 2 hours, until solid, then transfer them to a freezer bag and freeze until ready to use.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
- sea salt
- 1/4 cup sherry (optional)
- 6 cups Basic Bone Broth, Very Veggie Broth or good-quality store-brought broth
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup Sprouted Wheat Bread Crumbs or store-bought whole-grain bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 3 ounces green beans, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
For the soup
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, carrot, and celery and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook, opening the lid to stir a couple of times until the mushrooms soften and release their liquid, about 10 minutes (covering the pan keeps the mushrooms from sticking and avoids the need to additional oil). Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the liquid released by the mushrooms has mostly evaporated. Add the sherry (if using) and cook until it has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, tamari, barley, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the barley is nearly tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine the beef, egg, bread crumbs, dill seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, red pepper ﬂakes (if using), and fresh dill. Mix well with your hands to thoroughly incorporate the ingredients. Rinse your hands to remove any stickiness from the meat, then form the mixture into about 1-inch rounds (to make about 18 meatballs).
Add the meatballs to the soup in a circular fashion around the pan, pushing them down a little to submerge them. Return the soup to a simmer, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the meatballs are just about cooked through, about 5 minutes. Uncover, add the green beans, and cook until the meatballs are fully cooked through, the barley is tender, and the green beans are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, taste, and adjust the seasonings with more salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice if needed. Stir in the fresh dill, spoon into bowls, and serve, topped with a spoonful of sour cream if you like. The soup may thicken as it sits; add more bone broth or water to thin it out.