Jerusalem, Again

I had to wait until (almost) February to post this recipe for Hot Yogurt and Barley soup. I didn’t want it to be mistaken for some sort of food cleanse or resolution—it contains barley, after all. Every January I am surprised by the intensity with which magazines are pushing “healthy eating”. I guess the idea is that if we drink juice for the month of January we can eat what we want the rest of the year? That seems like a stupid plan. Some food magazines are even profiling celebrities who only drink juice (and plankton) and who seem to generally dislike food (and joy?). Why??! What does the new year do to all of us?!

Back to the recipe, which comes from a little book that you’ve probably never heard of, Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Just kidding! All anyone talks about is Jerusalem. With good reason, it is perfect. This soup is the kind of recipe that makes your lunch guests nervous. Hot yogurt doesn’t necessarily sound appetizing and to finish the title with barley just ruins everything. Luckily my friends are good sports and agreed to try this with me. Of course we liked it, because this cookbook would never do us wrong. This Armenian soup is similar, in a way, to avgolemono soup which is so popular in Chicago’s Greek restaurants. Here, the tang comes from yogurt rather than lemon, but the results are similarly satisfying. We served it with that spinach and date salad that I can’t shut up about. It was a really nice lunch, and not a juice in sight.

Hot Yogurt & Barley Soup (from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 ounce fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/3 ounce flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced thin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place water, barley, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the barley is al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve 5 cups of cooking liquid. (I drained my barley and measured the liquid and then recombined the two, but you can just wing it)

While the barley is cooking, saute the onion and dried mint over medium in the butter until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the onions and butter to the barley and water.

In a large, heatproof bowl, whisk together the yogurt and eggs. Slowly mix in some of the barley and water, one ladle at a time, until the yogurt has warmed. This will temper the mixture so it doesn’t separate/curdle. Add the warmed yogurt to the rest of the barley and water and return to medium heat, stirring constantly, until the soup comes to a light simmer. Do not boil! Remove from heat and stir in the herbs and green onions. Check the seasoning, you’ll need to add salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with extra herbs or green onions, if you like.

Serves 4-6

57 comments to “Jerusalem, Again”

  1. I made this! The title threw me off – hot yogurt? But it was so good, like a tangy creamy chowder. I only had fat-free Greek yogurt on hand, so I used that. It wasn’t as rich as full-fat, so I used about half the amount of water. It was delicious! And so easy. It was done in about half an hour. Thanks for the recipe.

    I don’t know how I missed this Jerusalem cookbook, but I will check it out!

  2. Thank god! I was worried there were people out there eating up the “I only juice before dusk” rhetoric that woman was spewing. It’s one damaged soul who mentions a sleeping thong in my food magazine. Jerusalem, though, can’t get enough. I just made the mejadra and now I want fried onions on my pizza, eggs, and everything else. Hot yogurt and barley soup sounds just right on this blustery Chicago night and looks wonderful.

  3. I’ve recently been going through an obsession with Greek yogurt (I can’t decide between Chobani and Fage.) and this is great. So glad I found this!


  4. I am so grateful that you have posted (again and again) about Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s recipes! I tried them and loved them and then decided that I would make a few stops at their London restaurants (NOPI and Ottolenghi) during a recent trip. OH. MY. GASTRONOMICAL GOODNESS! Their creations are so amazing! I am drooling as I wait for the Ottolenghi cookbook to be released stateside in September. I suspect you will be pleased and will post again and again…

  5. Christy- Is it the old/original Ottolenghi cookbook? I love that book, and would be excited to see an updated version. Glad you had a chance to try the real deal in London. They’re my favorite!

  6. Is the dried mint spearmint or peppermint? I have both that I’ve just purchased today so I can make this soup this weekend but am not sure which one would be most complimentary! (although the fresh mint I will use is spearmint) I am loving the cookbook but the reaffirmation that you like a certain recipe really makes it that much more enticing :)

  7. Hi Em, You can use whatever you like.