Try to use hulled barley for this soup--it's a less refined form of the grain that provides more fiber and iron than pearled barley, which will also work nicely. Beef stew meat also contributes iron, plus selenium. The mushrooms supply vitamin D and are a prime source of ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may help prevent cell damage and reduce the risk of cancer.
12 ounces lean beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 cups less-sodium beef broth, divided
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 thyme sprigs
1 cup uncooked barley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
How to Make It
Place the porcini mushrooms in a medium bowl; cover with boiling water. Cover and let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain mushrooms in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms; set aside.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add cremini mushrooms and chopped onion; sauté 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon onion mixture into a medium bowl. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add chopped carrot, celery, parsnip, and minced garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add carrot mixture to onion mixture in a bowl.
Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add beef; cook 3 minutes, browning on all sides. Add 1 cup broth to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add remaining 5 cups broth, chopped porcini, porcini liquid, onion mixture, 2 cups water, salt, pepper, and thyme. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour or until beef is just tender.
Discard thyme sprigs. Stir in barley; cover and cook 30 minutes or until barley is al dente. Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat; sprinkle with parsley.