At times I feel like I have become vegetarian when I really have not. I think I have just become more conscious on my meat intake. I am not sure if this is a temporary state, but on the upside I am trying to expose my family into eating more grains, beans, veggies and exploring life outside of just meat. I want them to realize they can make more choices in food other than chicken nuggets and french fries. At times, it’s working great, and at times so-so. If it fails, I don’t give up. I figure after a while it would become a 2nd nature to them.
When I made this soup in a rush after work, I was taking a big risk that none of my family members will eat it…including me. I was making up the recipe as rushing to get food on the table. Ariana, my 5 year old told me she was going to opt-in for cereal instead and did not want to even take a taste bite. In fact, she was crying and pleading on how she did not want to eat the soup. I gave her a mini bagel to at least fill her belly. After noticing the rest of us having the soup happily, she had a change of heart. She decided to take a tiny bite… and then the rest was all a happy ending of 2 bowls of soup just for her.
As a mom, it can become challenging to make sure your family is eating nutritional meals. There are times when we fall off our healthy habits, but there is always the next day. I strongly believe if you teach your kids young healthy eating habits, they won’t even realize what they are missing out… or they will have an understanding of what’s an everyday meal from a special meal/treat.
Here is the recipe for the soup. I did leave out the Za’atar oil for the kids’ version since I think kids are more into simpler flavors.
It tastes good either way. Armenians make a similar soup called sebas that is just wheat and yogurt and I love to have it. I used barley since I already had pre-boiled the barley the night before so I can think of ways of incorporating it in our diet.
Also, if you don’t have za’atar, you can substitute dried thyme or mint… or just leave it out completely.
Barley Yogurt Soup with Lentils, Chickpeas and Za’atar Oil
- 1 cup pearled barley, boiled
- 1 1/2 cup lentils, boiled
- 15 oz can chickpeas
- 2 lb container of plain yogurt
- 5 cups boiled water
- salt to taste
- 1/2 lemon juice + more for serving
- 1/4 olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp za’atar mix
- 1 tbs dried mint
- 1 tsp chili flakes
Before starting your yogurt base, make sure the barley and lentils have been boiled in advance. You can either do it the night before, or an hour before making the soup. Rinse and boil barley for about 45 minutes and rinse and boil lentils for about 20 minutes.
Note: Making a yogurt base can be a little tricky since you need to make sure to keep stirring similar to making a cream sauce. If it’s not stirred enough, the yogurt will break and the soup want look or taste that great.
In a large non stick pot over medium heat add yogurt and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the yogurt comes to a boiling point. Add boiled water 1 cup at a time and keep stirring until the yogurt starts boiling again.
Add boiled lentils, barley and rinsed chickpeas. Season with salt to taste. Add lemon juice if you like your soup a little tangy. Lower the heat and let it simmer for another 10 to minutes for the flavors to blend.
In the meantime, prepare the za’atar oil. (any leftover oil can be used on a toast)
Heat olive oil in a medium size pan, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
Serve with tiny drizzle of za’atar oil and lemon juice.