Instead of chicken soup for the soul, I propose Herbed Barley and Yogurt Soup for the soul. Perhaps a stretch but I think it gets at the same thing. Soft and toothsome barley is the hidden treat and one of the thickening agents behind this soups luxurious texture. The other thickening agents are a surprising duo of tangy yogurt and egg and then it is all balanced out by a subtle burst of bright freshness courtesy of some lemon and fresh minced mint. There's something so refreshing and nourishing about this soup and the fact that it's a light shade of grassy green, it's the perfect dish to chase away the winter blues.
This soup was inspired by a similar soup that we made at school last week that I quickly became enamored with. To me yogurt is a surprise in a hot soup but something that provides a completely different texture and taste. Additionally, this soup is so packed with nutrients from the barley and I also stirred in a whole bag of spinach that I had blanched and blended down to give the soup that pretty green hue. Simply stated, this is the soup you make to fill you up and remind you that spring is coming. It has to, right?
Herbed Barley and Yogurt Soup
- 1 cup pearled barley, rinsed well
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 TBS butter
- 1 32 oz carton of chicken stock + 1 cartonful of water
- 3 cups plain yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1-6 oz bag of baby spinach
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 TBS fresh mint, minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice to taste
Start by frying the onion in a big stock pot in the butter until the onion has softened. Add the stock and barley and cover the pot, simmering the barley until it is tender but still has a little bite to it (about an hour). Meanwhile, wilt the spinach down in a pan and then shock it in an big bowl of ice water. Drain the spinach from the water, leaving about a cup full. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend the spinach and water. Stir in the yogurt and the egg. Set aside.
Once the barley is cooked, let it cool a bit and then temper in the yogurt spinach mixture. Add the oregano and mint. Raise the heat a bit but be careful not to bring the soup to a boil. Lightly simmer the soup until it thicken a bit (10 minutes or so). Add the olive oil, season to taste with lemon, salt and pepper and then serve immediately.