The  Whole Grains Council has named February as Barley Month. I have never cooked much with barley but I found a couple of barley recipes to share that turned our really well for me because they were easy and used healthy, affordable and easily found ingredients.

Barley is a lower calorie high fiber food , so it fills you up without adding lots of calories. And barley contains manganese which is an activator of several essential enzyme systems specifically involved in protein and energy metabolism.

Meatball and Barley Soup

barley soup
For the meatballs:

1 pkg. ground turkey handful ground sirloin

1 egg

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 cup oatmeal, ground up fine in a mini-prep processor

1 tsp. Worchestshire sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

coarse grain salt to taste

white (or black) pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and form into balls.

For the soup:

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil,

divided use 3 garlic cloves,

minced 1/2 green cabbage (I used a very small homegrown cabbage)

2 stalks celery,

diced 1 tbsp.

dried oregano

2 sprigs fresh thyme,

dried is okay too

(2) 32 oz. cartons good quality beef broth

coarse grain salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 cup cooked pearl barley (follow package instructions)

In a heavy stockpot with taller sides, add 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Add meatballs and brown them on both sides over medium-high heat. If the meatballs stick to the bottom of the pan, they need more time. When they’re done (about 3-4 minutes per side), they’ll pull away with tongs or a spatula.

Soon as meatballs are browned on both soides, remove rom pot and set aside. Add additional tbsp. of olive oil and scrape the browned pieces of meatballs from the bottom of the pan.

Add a little bit (1/3 cup or so) of broth if you need to, to shake these flavor pockets loose.

Add salt and pepper. Add garlic, cabbage, and celery. Stir around these veggies, coating them with olive oil. When the veggies are softened, about 3 minutes, add ALL broth.

Add oregano and thyme. Bring to a boil. When broth is boiling, add browned meatballs (and whatever juices have dripped from them) into pot, reduce to simmer.

Simmer for ten minutes or so. Cut open one meatball to make sure they’re done. Add barley. Soup’s done.

Crock Pot Barley Soup

1 lb. stew beef, cut in 1/2″ cubes

1 med. onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, diced

3/4 c. barley

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste

6 c. beef stock

Cook on low in crock pot for 6 to 8 hours stirring occasionally.

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