Hearty and Good-For-You Meatball & Barley Soup

Just in time for January, which is National Soup Month, this delicious and filling soup works for lunch or dinner!

This is a very hearty soup that is not only tasty, but filling and loaded with veggies and barley. The barley, which is a whole grain, is a great addition to the soup as it makes it nice and thick.

You can find dried barley in the supermarket near other dried grains and beans such as split peas and lentils.

This would make a great choice for an easy winter dinner.

Meatball and Barley Soup
Serves 6-8

1 T olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade broth
2 cups water
1 ¼ cups barley (uncooked) I used Goya
1 lb. ground pork, beef or turkey or a combination of two or three
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
2 T dried parsley
½ cup fresh or dried bread crumbs
1 can (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
About 4 cups fresh spinach leaves (or kale, Swiss chard or other hearty green)
Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a very large pot (5 quarts at least), heat oil over medium-low heat. Add carrots, celery and onion and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes.

Add broth, water and barley. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the ground meat, Parmesan cheese, parsley, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. Divide and roll into 30-35 meatballs.

Drop meatballs into soup. Let simmer. Stir in beans and spinach. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasonings and add some salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from a recipe in the 2013 issue of Women's Day magazine.

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