Soup Jo is Cream of Barley Soup. It is very wholesome and satisfying and perfect for this time of year. It has the barley (jo) goodness combined with fresh ingredients. It is very healthy, thick and creamy without using any heavy cream. The secret is in the simple white sauce (bechamel sauce) that is made with low fat milk. The pearled barley naturally thickens this Soup Jo as it cooks. I cook the pearled barley ahead of time. It keeps well in the refrigerator for couple of days and in the freezer for several months. I cook a whole bag or box which is usually 22-24 ounces, use what I need and freeze the rest in small baggies. Soup Jo (Cream of Barley Soup) can be served with or without fresh lemon juice since it is added at the end after the soup is ready. If you’re not a big fan of citrus flavor in your soup you can easily leave it out.
Also sometimes I like to add a few barberries (zereshk) when serving Soup Jo. Zereshk is the sour berries of edible barberry bush sold in the Middle Eastern markets. For those of us who like zereshk, this is a very nice garnish, and if you’re like my daughter you will add a spoonful of these little berries to your soup. This is an optional garnish.
Saute the diced shallots in the stockpot until translucent. Add cooked barley and chicken stock and simmer until thickened
Grate a carrot and add it to the pot
Add more chicken stock, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper, simmer until nice and thick. For the vegetarian version of this recipe use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.
Meanwhile make the white sauce; melt the butter in a nonstick 2-Qt saucepan
Until flour cooks into a golden color and has a nutty aroma, don’t overcook
Add half of the milk and whisk until thickened. Add the remaining milk and keep whisking until hot, but not thickened.
Add the hot white sauce to boiling soup and stir vigorously until all blended
Simmer Soup Jo to thicken a bit. Add the optional fresh lemon juice now and simmer for another couple of minutes, or just skip adding the lemon juice. Add the chopped fresh parsley and serve.
Serve Soup Jo with or without zereshk (barberries) and a slice of crusty bread. Enjoy!
- 2 medium shallots, diced small
- 1 TBSP butter
- 16 ounces cooked barley (3/4 cup dry, see notes)
- 3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
- 2⅔ cups additional chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- ½ -3/4 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- FOR THE WHITE SAUCE (bechamel sauce)
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter
- 2 packed TBSP flour
- 2 cups low-fat milk divided. I use 1% fat milk
- 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 2 TBSP fine chopped fresh parsley
- 1-2 teaspoon zereshk (barberries) (optional)
- Heat the butter in a 6-Qt stockpot; add diced shallots and saute until translucent.
- Add cooked barley and 3 cups of chicken stock.
- Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer over medium low heat for 30 minutes, or until thickened.
- Add the grated carrot, 2⅔ cups additional chicken stock, salt and pepper to the pot. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer for another 20 minutes, until thickened; keep it hot over medium low heat.
- Prepare the white sauce, heat 2 TBSP butter in a non-stick 2-Qt saucepan over medium heat.
- Add 2 TBSP flour and stir until the flour has a golden color and a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes.
- Add one cup of milk and beat with a whisk over medium heat constantly until the sauce thickens.
- Add another cup of milk, heat until hot but not boiling.
- Bring the soup to a boil over medium high and add the hot white sauce and stir.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook the soup uncovered for 10 minutes, or until it thickens. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- Add the optional 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice and cook over medium heat for another 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add chopped parsley and serve.
- Add a few optional barberries when serving the soup.
- Serve with slices of whole grain bread.
Zereshk (barberries) may be purchased at Mediterranean or Middle Eastern markets.
How to Cook Barley:
Barley foams up quite a bit while cooking, so to prevent boiling over and creating a big mess, you either have to cook it uncovered or cook it on very low heat, both of which methods will result in a prolonged cooking time that also requires keeping a close eye on it.
This is a really easy method of cooking barley that can be done a day in advance:
Pick through ¾ cup pearled barley and rinse under cold water. Add the barley to a 2-Qt saucepan.
Add 2 ½ cups water and ¼ tsp salt. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes without covering the saucepan.
Remove the saucepan from heat and cover tightly with the lid and set aside in the room temperature. Check back in 4-5 hours. Almost all of the water will be absorbed, and the barley will be tender and ready to use in any recipe.