Soup season always gets us excited because the options are endless—they can range from light and brothy, to heavy and creamy, and about everything in between. Here, this satisfying meal-in-a-bowl is a riff on the Persian dish called soup-e jo and came to us from Milk Street Magazine.
Though barley’s natural starch lends the soup body, béchamel, a mixture of butter, flour and milk, also is traditional for added richness and thickening. For ease, the béchamel is skipped and instead a tablespoon of flour is simply mixed into the sautéed onion and mushrooms, with a swirl of a little cream at the very end.
Fragrant spices give the soup color and complexity, and the fresh mint lifts and brightens the flavors. If you so choose, you can also include dill. The soup was hearty enough as a meal on it’s own, but a side salad would be a welcome addition.
TIP: Don’t use whole-grain barley, as it requires a significantly longer cooking time than pearled barley.
Persian-Style Chicken, Mushroom and Barley Soup
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 12 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered if small or medium, cut into eighths if large
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 qts. low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint, dill or a combination, chopped
- In a large pot over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the mushrooms release moisture, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the cumin, turmeric, flour, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until well combined, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the barley and chicken, followed by the broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 40 minutes.
- Off heat, stir in the cream and half of the herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining herbs.
Recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street