2 ratings

Yogurt Barley Soup with Cilantro-Walnut Pesto


Enjoy this very simple, refreshingly tart soup as a light spring greeting for lunch or dinner.


Recipe Courtesy of Mollie Katzen for the California Walnut Board.


For the Soup:

  • 1 Cup pearl barley
  • 1 Cup plain yogurt (Greek style ok) - at room temperature
  • black pepper to taste
  • cilantro walnut pesto (recipe follows)
  • 1 Teaspoon minced or crushed garlic
  • 1 Cup finely minced onion
  • 4 Cups water
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cumin
  • minced fresh mint (OPTIONAL TOPPING)
  • chopped walnuts (OPTIONAL TOPPING)

For the Cilantro-Walnut Pesto:

  • 1 Cup walnuts
  • 1 Cup firmly packed cilantro (leaves and smaller stems)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon minced or crushed garlic


For the Soup:

1)     Combine the barley, water, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a medium-large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the barley is tender – about 45 minutes.
2)     Meanwhile, place a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and wait about a minute, then add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.  Toss in the onion and cumin and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and continue to sauté until the onion becomes very soft – about another 5 to 8 minutes.
3)     When steps 1 and 2 are done, add the sautéed mixture to the barley mixture, and simmer them together, covered, over lowest possible heat, for about 10 minutes – to meld the flavors.
4)     Stir and/or whisk the room-temperature yogurt into the hot soup until it blends in completely. Season to taste with black pepper, and serve right away, with a heaping teaspoon (or more) of the pesto added to each serving. If desired, you can also top with scatterings of fresh mint and minced walnuts.

For the Cilantro-Walnut Pesto:

1)     Place the walnuts in a blender or the small bowl of a food processor, and grind to a coarse meal.
2)     Add the garlic, cilantro, and salt, and continue to run the machine until it becomes a uniform green paste (some light walnut texture is fine).
3)     Run the machine while you drizzle in the oil. Transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate until use.