Apart from cooking the barley – which is a 5 minute chore to set up the evening before, providing you use a rice cooker – this is a quick and easy soup to make. The barley and carrots give it just enough substance, the green onions and mint give it a lively flavour of spring greens. Yogurt and lemon juice give it a bit of zing.
This will serve 2 as a meal, or 4 if it is used as a starter. Use the 3 cups of stock for 2 large servings, or 4 cups stock if you are serving 4 portions.
2 to 4 servings
30 minutes prep – not including cooking the barley
Cook the Barley:
1/2 cup raw pot barley
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Put it all in your rice cooker; turn on; cook.
Or, put it all in a medium-sized pot on the stove. Bring to a boil then reduce to low, keep covered, and cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Check it regularly.
This can be done a day in advance.
Make the Soup:
1 medium-large carrot
4 green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 to 4 cups unsalted chicken or vegetable stock
the juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 cup thick yogurt
Peel and grate the carrot. Wash, trim, and finely chop the green onions. Strip the mint leaves from any tough stems, discarding the tough stems and any damaged leaves. Wash the leaves, drain well, and chop them finely.
Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. When it is foamy, add the carrots and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until they lighten in colour, stirring regularly. Crumble the cooked barley with a wet hand to be sure it is not clumped together. Add the barley, the chopped green onions, flour, salt, and pepper to the pot. Add about two-thirds of the chopped mint. Mix well and cook for another couple of minutes.
Stir in the stock, a cup at a time. Let the soup simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
Mix in the lemon juice. Mix in the yogurt and the remaining mint. Bring the soup back up to steaming hot but do not let it simmer or boil. Serve at once.
Last year at this time I made Salmon or Trout & Spinach Pie.