Yogurt Barley Soup

January 2, 2018

I've been blogging for nearly seven years now: for most of 2011 and part of 2012 I baked and blogged my way through Beard on Bread; once I finished that project, I started this site (which at the time was called "My Mixing Bowl" and almost exclusively focused on recipes).  When I stumble across old posts—say, I need the recipe for braised red cabbage—it's like catching a glimpse of a past self in the mirror.  Even if I don't remember writing the words, I recognize the themes.  There's my annual "it should be spring already but I live in Minnesota" rant; my nostalgic Christmas baking posts; my particular brand of humor about things like the Cookie Yield Paradox and the Annual Tax Software Fight.  And when things are tough, when I can detect the anxiety and sadness woven into my words, I always turn to soup.

There is the coconut carrot soup that helped me through a time of transition; the miso ginger sweet potato soup that gives me a sense of confidence; the slow cooker split pea soup that gets dinner on the table when life is overwhelming.  And this winter, when my seasonal affective disorder, stress, and insomnia threw me for a loop, there was this yogurt barley soup.  It's a sort of hybrid between a broth and cream soup, thinner than you would expect but with a silky texture.  It tastes fresh, but in a way that's achievable with winter supermarket offerings: a tang from plain yogurt, a grassy sprinkling of fresh parsley, an herbal undertone of dried mint. 

Yogurt barley soup didn't solve my problems.  But as I've written again and again over the years, a bowl of soup gave me comfort and strength to face another day.

Adapted from the Kitchn

Serves two as a main course

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • smoked paprika, to taste

Combine barley and 1 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until barley is chewy-tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain any excess water.

Meanwhile, remove yogurt from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in prepared barley, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper and stir to coat evenly.  Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Remove soup from heat and stir in the room-temperature yogurt.  Season with additional pepper if desired and smoked paprika to taste, and garnish with fresh parsley.

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