Sometimes you want your old familiar favorite soup and sometimes you want to try something new! This soup, Persian Chicken Soup with Barley, or Ash-e Joh in Farsi, is the Persian equivalent of chicken and noodle soup for Americans.
It is a simple comfort food, something that would have been easy for the Persian cook to have simmering on the stove, hot and ready to eat when everyone finally arrived home in the evening. My sister-in-law taught me how to make this, knowing that her brother – my husband – loved the savory simplicity of the flavorful broth with just a few additional ingredients.
Persian Chicken Soup with Barley is easy to make, and can use chicken wings as the meat basis or a leftover rotisserie chicken also works well. Even though this soup comes from a culture on the other side of the world, the ingredients are all familiar and the flavor is not scary-strange for people who are not so comfortable with adventurous eating!
I use the quick-cooking barley, which is found at my local grocery store in the same area with the boxed rice mixes. It is not as high in fiber as regular barley, but it cooks a lot faster. If you want to use regular barley, you will need to soak it or cook separately in water for 30 minutes before adding it to the soup – here’s a link detailing how.
The Whole Grains Council has a good information page on the different types of barley and how they stack up as far as the definition of “whole grains,” and you can find that here.
Although according to their definition, quick-cooking barley is not a whole grain, I use it in this recipe for convenience and speed. According to my quick-cooking barley’s nutrition panel on the package, a 1/3 c. serving provides 5g protein, 5g dietary fiber, and 37g carbohydrate. The soup also has onions, carrots, and celery to contribute fiber, so as always, it is a matter of finding the right balance for yourself, your lifestyle, and your body’s response to different ingredients.
So here’s to soup! And here’s to the delicious foods from all around the world that can bring people together, despite differences in ideologies and cultures!
In a 5-qt saucepan, put chicken wings in water and bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and skim off any scum that forms. Let simmer 15 minutes.
In a small nonstick pan, heat the oil and saute the onions for 5 min until they are transparent and just starting to brown. Then add the tomato paste and cook 2 min, stirring constantly. Add to the soup pot.
Add all other ingredients except lemon juice. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove chicken wings, take meat off the bone, chop coarsely, and return to pot. (Discard skin, fat, and bones.)
Add lemon juice, check salt and pepper and adjust to your taste, and simmer 5 min more. *Optional – to make the soup creamy, take 1/2 cup of the soup broth and mix it with 1/2 c. sour cream. Stir this mixture slowly into the simmering soup and heat through.