Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs
- 4 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 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-pound presliced mushrooms)
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.