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Cooking time 1 hour 30 minutes. This does not reflect the time for pre cooking the barley.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Persian
Serves: 6 cups
  • 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)
  1. Heat the butter in a 6-Qt stockpot; add diced shallots and saute until translucent.
  2. Add cooked barley and 3 cups of chicken stock.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer over medium low heat for 30 minutes, or until thickened.
  4. 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.
  5. Prepare the white sauce, heat 2 TBSP butter in a non-stick 2-Qt saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Add 2 TBSP flour and stir until the flour has a golden color and a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add one cup of milk and beat with a whisk over medium heat constantly until the sauce thickens.
  8. Add another cup of milk, heat until hot but not boiling.
  9. Bring the soup to a boil over medium high and add the hot white sauce and stir.
  10. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the soup uncovered for 10 minutes, or until it thickens. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
  11. Add the optional 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice and cook over medium heat for another 2 minutes.
  12. Remove from the heat, add chopped parsley and serve.
  13. Add a few optional barberries when serving the soup.
  14. Serve with slices of whole grain bread.
Vegetable stock may be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version of this soup.
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.
Recipe by Persian Mama at