Herbed Beef and Barley Soup

Serve this meatball soup with hot rolls for dinner on a cold winter night.

Start To Finish Time:
60 mins
12 cups total soup


  • 1 recipe Mealmaker Meatballs

  • 4 bacon or peppered bacon

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound butternut or acorn squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 4 cups)

  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 2 medium parsnips, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 4 ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth or lower-sodium beef broth (about 7 cups)

  • 1 cup apple juice or water

  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, dried thyme, or dried oregano, crushed

  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley

  • Salt and ground black pepper

Mealmaker Meatballs

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1 ¼ cup French or Italian bread crumbs

  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or dried thyme, crushed

  • teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 pound lean ground beef


  1. Prepare and bake Meatballs. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart Dutch oven cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Drain bacon on paper towels; set aside.

  2. Cook onion and garlic in reserved drippings over medium heat until tender. Add squash, carrots, and parsnips; cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add broth, apple juice or water, and Italian seasoning. Bring to boiling; stir in barley. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until barley and vegetables are tender. Add meatballs; heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. To serve, ladle into bowls. Crumble cooked bacon and sprinkle over individual servings. Makes 6 to 8 servings (12 cups total soup).

Mealmaker Meatballs

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil; set aside. In a large bowl combine the egg, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add beef; mix well. Shape into 24 meatballs (about 1 tablespoon mixture per meatball). Arrange meatballs in prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Drain off fat. Makes 24 meatballs.

  2. Each meatball: 41 cal, 2 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 21 mg chol., 71 mg sodium, 1 g carbo., 0 g fiber, 4 g pro.

Cooking Club Directions:

This soup is not recommended for freezing. Prepare as above, except divide cooked bacon among small self-sealing plastic bags for each member. Quick-chill soup by placing Dutch oven in a sink filled with ice water for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer soup to 4-quart storage containers for each member. Cover and refrigerate soup and bacon up to 3 days.

Test Kitchen Tip:

A double batch can be made in an 8-quart Dutch oven.

Reheating and Serving:

To serve, transfer soup to a 4-quart Dutch oven. Bring soup to boiling, stirring frequently. Serve as above.


Use a blender or food processor to make soft breadcrumbs. About 1-1/2 ounces of break makes 1 cup of crumbs.

Test Kitchen Tip:

The job is quick when one person makes the meatballs while others perform other tasks. Set aside a spot at the kitchen table for the meatball maker to sit.