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’ve been hoping for a shout-out to the inane juice issue. Down with plankton; up with your gorgeous soup. I have never had anything with hot yogurt in it, but if it’s anything like avgolemono, I would love it. I don’t have Jerusalem (yet) so thanks for the second recipe to push me to get my hands on it. Cheers to you friend—S

  2. Haha, not to add to the endless chatter about Jerusalem, but I’m currently working on a blog post with one of its recipes. They’re just so good! And that book is so beautiful! I like how you chose this soup– it’s something that I have glanced over but am too shy to have tried.

    And oh my god, that article in Bon Appetit featuring Kelly Wearstler was just too, too much. I cringed the whole time while reading it–from how she survives all day on a juice and a cappuccino to the part about her going to sleep in a thong. Blech, ick, sick!

  3. !!! I read that Bon Appetit profile and thought the same exact thing! I thought I was taking crazy pills- why is someone who doesn’t eat (or enjoy food, for that matter) profiled in a food magazine? To quote Liz Lemon “Give me Kirstie Alley, someone who knows what’s she doing!”

  4. Sarah- Leave work and go buy Jerusalem right now! I really want you to have it and to see you cooking with it. : )
    Amy- Ha! The thong really bothered me, too.

  5. Ha, Judi! I like that.

  6. Awesome, can’t wait to try this! I was turned onto Turkish toyga soup recently – very similar to what you’re making – plus chickpeas, spinach and minus the eggs, but somehow beautifully satisfying.

    P.S. The Wearstler interview totally made me cringe and want to hide my eyes too.

  7. I have had the Jerusalem cookbook on my list of cookbooks to buy. I need to get on it!

    But, I have to tell you, I’m not sure this recipe fits my first-two-months-of-the-new-year diet plan. Not near enough plankton. Too much delicious. :)

  8. Yes! Thanks for pointing out the ridiculous BA article. I know by talking about it we’re just getting more people to read it, but the irony was just too much. On one page we have a woman saying pineapple has too much sugar for her and then on the next page, we have 3 ways to integrate MORE pineapple into our lives. Mixed messages.

    The soup looks so comforting – this might just convince me to move Jerusalem from my wishlist to my shopping cart…

  9. Elaine- I know! I hate to give them even more page views since it seems like that is all they care about these days. But it is too much not to address it. Really strange and disturbing. But Jerusalem is the real deal and one of my favorite books. You should check it out!

  10. Hoping to try this out soon!

  11. I’m really glad you mentioned this soup being similar to avgolemno. I was a little weary on giving it a go, but that definitely won me over.

  12. I will be trying this asap. Did you use full-fat yogurt? Whole milk Greek yogurt is so filling that I worry the soup would be heavy.

  13. Hi Harriet- The recipe does not specify, but I used whole milk Greek Yogurt. We didn’t find it heavy at all, whole milk yogurt isn’t so bad. If you try another yogurt, let us all know how it goes.

  14. Can I just say: THANK YOU for commenting on the BA article! As someone who a) loves food, and b) has know a few women with eating disorders, I was absolutely outraged when I opening my most recent Bon Appetit. For a moment, I thought I had accidentally opened an issue of Cosmopolitan.

    I really enjoy your blog, by the way!

  15. This soup looks and sounds delicious. And, here again Tim, you’re directing me to get another cookbook. :-) I’m so happy to hear that I’m not the only one who found the BA article absurd. It belongs in Prevention Magazine.

  16. OMG i love you for posting this.

  17. This soup sounds like just the right combination of sourness and warmth. I bet that the texture from the warm yoghurt and eggs is absolutely perfect. And to hell with all those suckas drinking nothing but juice. More real food for the rest of us!

  18. Man, Octavian’s mom just signed me up for BA, since I spent an inordinate amount of time flipping through recipes while visiting over the holidays. My hope was that BA was getting better. Clearly not.

    But yes, Jerusalem is great. Totally dazzling. I haven’t tried this yogurt soup yet, but I did just track down some barley (I had to go to three stores!) for the parsley salad, so I’m sure that the soup won’t be far behind.

  19. YES! I need to add my voice to this calling-out of that ridiculous woman in BA. Why is a boring person who hates food in a food publication? She doesn’t eat! Get her out of my magazine!

  20. I know I’m late to the BA-bashing party here, but thank you so much for calling out that article. I was totally outraged by it. BA is supposed to be a magazine that celebrates the joy of food. why, then, would they profile someone whose eating habits just make the rest of us feel guilty, unworthy, and gluttonous? I miss Gourmet.

  21. I finally acquired my copy of Jerusalem and I really cannot wait to dig in. My sights were set on either the root vegetable slaw or some hearty shakshuka to start with first…but now maybe this soup? Or all three?

  22. WAs soooooo curious about this soup!! Thanks for reviewing it for us. Now it’s my turn to tackle Jerusalem!! Have yet to actually cook from it…

    As for Bon Appetit, love you for calling them out!!! And when you’re in L.A., let’s go juicing!! (I know exactly where she gets her juice!) hahahhaa

  23. Jerusalem is so great. Have you tried the orange cake with the chocolate ganache? And the root vegetable slaw? I did a one day cookery course in London with both of them and they are such lovely people as well.

    I’m glad to see all the comments on the BA piece are saying the same as you – maybe they will realise that their readers would prefer to find out about someone who actually enjoys food/cooks food/eats food…

  24. Hi. Love this post and love Jerusalem. The book was given to me for a Hanukkah gift by my dear cousin, who follows your blog and turned me on to Lottie and Doof. Well done. I haven’t made this soup yet, but will plan it as part of a company dinner next weekend. I have made several recipes from the book. Here is my posting about one of my favorites: . Enjoy!

  25. The best part: “my husband is like, ‘Ooooh.’ And I’m like, ‘Sorrrry!'”

  26. Ah, I bought Jerusalem yesterday, did not get a chance yet to read it and now I’m bumping in this article of yours…small small world. – your recipe and images make me wanna start reading right now!

  27. I say down with BA. Let’s stop making ourselves crazy. It’s been long enough, already, that we can officially give up hope of a resurrection. Move on. . . Saveur and Food & Wine are where it’s at. Honest, truthful, and pro-food! Heck, I’d rather read Women’s Day than that other rag anymore.

  28. I’ve been wondering about this recipe. “Hot yogurt” turned me off at first, but you’ve convinced me! And that profile is ludicrous. Reminds me of when BA collaborated with some some company to launch a “work-to-table” clothing line. Because food is an accessory in this part of the world? Blech.

  29. I got the brilliant Jerusalem for Christmas but have so far not managed to cook from it although I just know that everything will be fantastic. I think this soup look great and how can that not be better for you than drinking juice. Life’s just too short!

  30. Isn’t the book just gorgeous? I made this salad and loved it
    Love your blog. Greetings from Chicago

  31. sarainamerica says:

    February 2nd, 2013 at 9:41 am

    THANK YOU for pointing out the BA profile. I could not believe it when I read it. I think the worst thing about it is her utter lack of joy…from food to sex? Ugh.

  32. Thanks for continuing with the Jerusalem posts, I can’t get enough! The book was most definitley my most coveted Christmas present. Last night I made the kofta b’siniyah. To die for! Yotam and Sami are my current food heros. Thank you for helping me work my way through the recipes :)

  33. Bonjour Tim,
    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, and some of your recipes have become favorites in my household (pasta with corn and bacon “pesto” being my personal favorite). These recipes from Jerusalem have got me wondering why I haven’t even looked through the cookbook yet, especially since I love Ottolenghi’s two previous opuses. It is on its way in the mail now, but I know from reading your reviews (and others) that I will not be disappointed. Yoghurt and barley soup ? Just beautiful. Thank you!

  34. Thank you for commenting on that BA article. I was so confused when I saw that! Why is that lady relevant for a food magazine?!

  35. Oh boy–I saw the Bon Appetit interview you reference, and…wow. That is incredibly joyless.

    Jerusalem has long been on my “to-get” list and every recipe I see that comes from it only makes me want to get it more, but I think I’m going to surprise the husband with a copy for Valentine’s Day. This soup definitely looks kind of goofy at first read, but knowing it resembles avgolemno? I’m sold.

  36. I can’t believe you are showcasing this soup! My Armenian grandmother made this all the time! There is a cold version of it (or maybe just this version, cold) and my father swore that it cured all that ailed! Enjoy!

  37. Made this today – YUM. I subbed barley with brown rice coz couldn’t find barley. And Greek yog with labneh (and a bit of water) and it worked out. Funny bc this soup (without the barley) is a base for a few famous homemade (and my fave) dishes. One includes kibbeh balls and the other stewed meat. So it was very familiar, yet still different and everyone at the table in Beirut enjoyed it a lot. Oh, and I made it with the date salad, which is awesome too! Curious where you get the sumac in Chi? xoxo

  38. You and the substitutions, Rima! ; ) I’m glad you made the salad. I am obsessed with that thing.
    The Spice House has sumac, and of course the Middle Eastern shops.

  39. just want to add another shout-out for decency and goodness and thank you for calling BA out for that ridiculous profile.

  40. Quick question: do you think that this soup could withstand reheating? I’m trying to decide whether to make a whole batch or just enough for two…

  41. You’re right about Ottolenghi. The other day I told friends he’s the most reliable man in my life– he’s never let me down, and if anything, actually exceeds expectations!

  42. ooh this looks delightful! i’ve been eyeing that jerusalem book for a while now, it looks sooo pretty!

  43. This was like, the one recipe in the book that I was just like, “Um, that sounds totally atrocious.” But maybe I’ve got to give it a try after all? Hot yogurt just sounds so wrong.

  44. Totally get the Jerusalem obsession. I can’t put it away though I’m a bit of a deer in headlights with it. I keep eyeing the braised eggs with lamb but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Maybe I’ll start with the soup instead. Hadn’t noticed the BA article but wow-so icey.

  45. I hated all the post-New Year’s cleanse recipes, too! I just try to eat healthy during the holidays while enjoying the seasonal goodies, too, in moderation, so I was also worried about posting recipes for healthy foods or for sweets. This recipe looks really good, and barley is pretty easy to find in Japan, so if I can find mint and parsley this week, I’m hoping to give it a go!

  46. agreed 100% about that silly Kelly Wearstler profile. I was appalled when I read it. She clearly is not a foodie and seems to me she has an eating disorder! Weird that they ran it.

  47. I’d also like to hear about whether this survives reheating! Thanks!

  48. This looks fantastically delicious! I can’t believe I missed it when I paged through my book. Actually, I can believe it because everything in there is luscious! Last night we had the spinach salad, but with pomegranate molasses and EVOO dressing from Plenty, plus the rice and lentils with fried onions. Both amazing. Tonight we’re having the Jerusalem artichokes and chicken and the hot chickpeas in hummus sauce. And don’t get me started on how fantastic the lentil salad with blue cheese and roasted tomatoes is! *Swooning* Honestly, I’m so obsessed with these books and so impressed with the food that I’ve made out of them, I’m glad to know that it isn’t insanity. Or at least that you share my obsessiveness too!

  49. I make cold yogurt soup–likt Tzadziki–but never one like this. It sounds yummy.

  50. 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!

  51. 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.

  52. 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!


  53. 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…

  54. 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!

  55. 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 :)

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

What do you think?