Meatball & Barley Stew; Christmas

We like meatballs.

I like stew.

I have discovered that mon mari is much more enthusiastic about stew if it has meatbalIs in it.

Therefore, I put meatballs in stew.

They add a bit of meat flavor without having to cook for hours. You can use ground chicken or turkey in place of beef, or leave them out and use tomato juice in place of beef broth for a vegetarian version.

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Meatball & Barley Stew

The time is a bit longer than usual (50 minutes) but it’s still an easy Skillet Dinner.
You could use rice or orzo in place of the barley. Use quick-cooking barley, done in 15 minutes (usually).

  • Author: Kate
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: One Dish Dinners
  • Method: Skillet


  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium rib celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15oz (450gr) white beans, drained, rinsed
  • 15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240ml) beef broth
  • 1/2 cup (75gr, 2.7oz) barley, quick-cooking
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 tbs paprika, smoky or sweet
  • 3 bay (laurel) leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 12oz (350gr) ground beef
  • 3 tbs breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano


  • Make meatballs:
  • In medium bowl lightly whisk egg.
  • Add breadcrumbs, mustard, broth, herbs, and mix well.
  • Add beef and mix well.
  • Form into meatballs, about 1″ (2.5cm) in diameter. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add paprika and sauté briefly.
  • Add onion and sauté 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic, sauté a minute longer.
  • Add carrots, celery, and sauté 5 minutes longer.
  • Add tomatoes, reserved juices, broth, herbs and barley to skillet.
  • Heat to simmering.
  • Add meatballs, simmer, covered, until meatballs and barley are done, turning meatballs once or twice.
  • When barley and meatballs are done, stir in beans and heat through.


I use quick-cooking barley which is done in 16 – 20 minutes. Depending on what type of barley you use you may have to cook longer and/or add more beef broth or water.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 995
  • Sugar: 17.5 g
  • Sodium: 1148.3 mg
  • Fat: 20.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.9 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 132 g
  • Fiber: 34.2 g
  • Protein: 72.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 195 mg

Keywords: barley, stew, meatballs, meatball stew

For another quick stew: Chicken & Carrot Stew.

Meatball & Barley Stew

I finally have all of the Christmas decorations up. I’m a little late this year but it’s one of those jobs best done when one is ‘in the mood’.

The oldest decorations I have were, according to my mother, always on her mother’s Christmas tree. I’m guessing that makes them over 100 years old. They’re small, glass ornaments: a bell and a ball.

Then I have a few plastic ornaments that my mother bought for her early Christmas trees – a skiing Santa, a few reindeer, an elf…

We have a few of the ornaments I made as a child; ornaments my mother made when she was a widow living on her own and in a craft group; ornaments that mon mari‘s uncle made and sent every year since the beginning of time (signed and dated); and a few other hand-made ornaments from friends / family.

I used to buy 1 or 2 new ornaments every year. They were always something especially pretty or meaningful or unique. If we traveled and found a Christmas market naturally I bought a few baubles there.

I don’t know why or when I stopped doing that….. As I unpack the boxes and boxes of stuff I am very, very glad I finally did.

4 thoughts on “Meatball & Barley Stew; Christmas”

  1. I do my big tree with a really large set of matching antique ornaments I just happened to come across several years ago at a garage sale. They obviously had no idea what they had, mercury glass ones, beautiful ornaments and they were dirt cheap so I bought them all. I have a set like yours that are probably 100 years old and paper thin glass. They go on a metal hanging display tree that sits somewhere no one can knock it over. They’re carefully packed away after Christmas and stored separately so they don’t get broken.

    When my girls were little, McDonald’s was giving away 101 Dalmatian toys in their Happy Meals. Two girls, two sets and we had to make sure we got every single puppy! The following year, I was having a bad time of it and really didn’t want a tree, but I’d do it for the girls so I ended up doing the whole tree in those two sets of Dalmatians that the girls just had to have that they ended up never taking out of the boxes. It was pretty cool looking really.

    We like stew, the thicker, the better. Never had it with meatballs, but I’m willing to try almost anything!

  2. One of my aunts did a pink tree one year – ages ago when it was a real challenge to find pink ornaments. I like to order a box set from the Smithsonian every year – much more interesting than the local Target lol
    Now – just too many!

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