Soups And Stews

Mini Chicken Meatball And Barley Stew

This mini chicken meatball and barley stew is both healthy and hearty. Savory tender chicken meatballs in a rich broth loaded with fresh veggies chewy barley and pillowy gnocchi. A cozy and comforting one-pot meal that’s ready in under an hour, but states like it simmered all day!

Happy New Year, friends!

So, who’s with me?

We are ready to reset after a busy, fun (and sometimes stressful) holiday season! Specifically our eating habits. Out with the sweets and in with the healthy eats! I am not one for New Year’s resolutions but rather for getting back on track.

What about you? Any resolutions or goals?

And there is nothing better (IMO) to lighten things up and start shrinking the waistline in the new year than with a heartwarming bowl of deliciousness, and this stew fits the bill!

It’s filling without being heavy, and the BROTH .. it’s so savory and rich. Every bite is full of fresh veggies, a burst of protein, chewy barley, and pillowy gnocchi. The healthiest bowl of comfort coziness you ever will eat!


And while this stew is amazing as is, it’s adaptable and versatile. Scroll down to see my swaps and substitutions.

Ingredient Notes And Substitutions

Ingredients for chicken meatball and barley stew

Chicken meatballs

Ground chicken ~ it’s my go-to! I find it’s so much moister and tender over ground turkey. Or you could absolutely choose beef or pork.

Garlic, parsley, and green onions ~ green onions are milder in flavor and are soft. Any onion can be used; just make sure to saute it before mixing with the chicken. Otherwise, they may be a little raw.

Worcestershire ~ adds depth of flavor and savoriness

Egg and breadcrumbs ~ bind everything together, and the egg adds moisture

Stew

Barley ~ star of the stew! If you cook the raw barley in the stew, it will absorb a lot of broth, requiring you to add more. Alternatively, you can pre-cook it as directed on the package. A “quick cooking” barley can be found in most grocery stores, which will cook in 10 to 15 minutes versus about 1 hour for raw barley.

Veggies ~ carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and diced tomatoes. All the usual suspects, but you can substitute whatever you prefer

Gnocchi ~ I love these little puffy gems! Of course, you could substitute diced potatoes or omit them altogether for a low-carb option.

Chicken stock~ any stock would be outstanding in this recipe or substitute broth. I always use stock, as they are richer and more flavorful. I used beef stock for this recipe, which creates a deep color.

Flour, butter, and olive oil ~ these ingredients for the roux to thicken the broth. If you prefer more of a soup or thin broth, simply omit the flour.

What’s The Difference Between The Different Barley’s?

Pearl Barley: (or quick cooking)

  • Pearl barley undergoes a pearling process where the outer husk and bran layers are removed, leaving behind the polished, pearled grains.
  • Texture: It has a smooth, pearly appearance and a less chewy texture compared to other types of barley.
  • Cooking Time: Pearl barley cooks relatively quickly, making it a convenient choice for soups, stews, and salads.

Hulled Barley:

  • Hulled barley has only the outer husk removed, retaining most of its bran layers and nutrients.
  • Texture: It has a chewier texture compared to pearl barley due to the presence of the bran.
  • Nutritional Value: Hulled barley is more nutritious than pearl barley as it contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Cooking Time: It takes longer to cook than pearl barley but is still suitable for various dishes, including pilafs and side dishes.
A pot of chicken meatball and barley stew

How To Make Mini Chicken Meatballs And Barley Stew

Here’s a quick run-through, scroll down for the printable recipe with full instructions, and ingredients.

  1. In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, breadcrumbs, parsley, green onion, Worcestershire, garlic salt, and pepper. Mix the ingredients until well combined. Shape the mixture into mini meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Arrange them on a baking sheet, and bake.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heatAdd chopped onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté until the vegetables are softened. Add minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute until fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock and diced tomatoes.
  3. Add the barley, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the barley is tender. Add the gnocchi and cooked mini chicken meatballs to the pot.

Customize This Stew!

  • Make it vegetarian ~ omit the chicken, or add tofu, and use vegetable, stock
  • Switch up the protein ~ use beef or pork for the meatballs, or use shredded or cubed meat
  • No barley on hand? ~ farro is a GREAT substitute for barley. It’s nutty, chewy, and full of fiber and nutrients!
  • Make it decadent ~ add a little heavy cream at the end of the cooking process for a creamy stew
chicken meatball and barley stew with crusty bread

Other Warm And Comforting Soups You May Love!

Roasted Butternut Squash & White Bean Soup

Irish Stew With Cheddar Chive Biscuits

Creamy Chicken & Dumpling Soup Cozy and comforting

Healthy Turkey Chili Rich and filling and made in the crockpot

Cauliflower Sausage Soup Taste like potato soup!

Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque Soup

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup Easy and delicious

Thai Coconut Pumpkin Soup With dumplings- yum!

Print
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Mini Chicken Meatball And Barley Stew


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Teri Wallingford
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Description

This mini chicken meatball and barley stew is both healthy and hearty. Savory tender chicken meatballs in a rich broth loaded with fresh veggies chewy barley and pillowy gnocchi. A cozy and comforting one-pot meal that’s ready in under an hour, but states like it simmered all day!


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the chicken meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 chopped green onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon EACh salt and pepper, or to preference

For the stew

  • 1/2 cup barley. Quick cooking variety or pearl. *SEE NOTE BELOW FOR PRE-COOKING THE BARLEY
  • 1 cup mini gnocchi or regular gnocchi. Can substitute potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery, about 2 stalks
  • 1 small carton of fresh mushrooms (8 oz) sliced or chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 46 cups chicken stock. Beef or vegetable stock also works well
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh
  • 1 teaspoon EACH salt and pepper, or to preference
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese for garnish.

Optional Add-Ins!

  1. Add a 2-inch chunk of parmesan rind to stew while it is cooking. It adds a robust flavor. Tip! Never throw out the parmesan rinds. Toss them in a freezer bag and use them to add huge flavor to soups and stews!
  2. Add a few splashes of heavy cream at the very end of the stew’s cooking process. It add a little richness and elegance!


Instructions

For the chicken meatballs

  1.  In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, breadcrumbs, parsley, green onion, Worcestershire, garlic salt, and pepper. Mix the ingredients until well combined. Shape the mixture into mini meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.
  2. Arrange them on a baking sheet, and bake at @400 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Alternatively, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and cook the meatballs until golden brown on all sides. Set aside.

For the stew

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté until the vegetables are softened.
  2. Add minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute until fragrant.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock and diced tomatoes. Give it a stir
  4. Add the gnocchi, barley, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender. (It will take less time if using quick-cooking barley). Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper according to your taste. Serve and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

Notes

* You can precook the barley and add it to the stew at the end of the cooking process. If you add the raw barley to the stew to cook you will use more stock, as the barley will absorb the liquid.

  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 to 45 minutes
  • Category: Stew
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American

6 Comments

  1. So tasty! My whole family really enjoyed it and it’s very easy to prepare. I’ll use regular barley next time. Instant barley got a little mushy.






  2. Paula Beckley

    This was absolutely delicious! We did use low sodium ingredients but it was a hit! This will definitely be a go-to recipe!






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