Updated: Nov 25, 2022
Soup-e Jo or Persian Cream of Barley Soup, is a delicious, hearty meal! When I was growing up, I always looked forward to going to my aunt's house when she cooked it. Every time I make this soup, the flavors bring me back to my childhood.
It is very delicious soup and just really hits the spot, especially this time of year. It has the barley (jo) goodness combined with fresh ingredients. It is healthy, thick and creamy without using any heavy cream. The secret is in the simple white sauce or béchamel which is made with milk. Watch this delicious soup thicken right before your eyes, it does it naturally without any extra ingredients, thanks to the pearled barley.
I cook my barley ahead of time. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week. Soup Jo 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. Try my recipe to enjoy one delicious soup!
2 medium shallots, diced
1 tablespoon of butter
16 ounces of cooked barley (nearly 3 cups)
3 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
2⅔ cups additional chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
INGREDIENTS FOR THE WHITE SAUCE (or the béchamel)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of low-fat milk divided. (I often use 2% milk)
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (optional)
Heat the butter in a 6-Qt stockpot; add diced shallots and sauté 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 of 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 tablespoons of butter in a non-stick 2-Qt saucepan over medium heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir until the flour has a golden color, 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, do not boil.
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 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and cook over medium heat for another 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat, and enjoy! Bon appétit!
*I always pre-cook my barley, it makes things much easier.
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 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 about 4 hours. Almost all of the water will be absorbed, and the barley will be tender and ready to use in any recipe.
*Cooking time for this soup is 1 hour 30 minutes. This does not reflect the time for pre cooking the barley.