As the snow falls outside and the heat pipes of my old building roast everything around them, I have to open the windows to the bracing cold to stop myself from melting in the stifling heat. I welcomed the dark hot winter chill with this wonderful soup, another adapted classic from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
While the idea of hot yogurt sounds unappetizing, try to think of the delicious spiced yogurt-based Indian dishes you’ve had. This soup has its roots in Armenian culture in Jerusalem and is also similar to the Sephardic soup that uses rice, yogurt, onion, herbs and lemon juice.
A delicious marriage of tangy yogurt and earthy couscous, warmed on the stove and garnished with a flourish of onions and herbs, this soup hits you with a mild balmy refreshment that really hits the spot.
Adapted from Hot Yogurt & Barley Soup recipe in Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
- 7 cups water
- 1 cup Israeli couscous (I used whole wheat)
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 2/3 ounce fresh mint, chopped
- 1/3 ounce flat leaf cilantro, chopped
- 3 green onions (scallions), sliced thin
- salt and freshly ground black pepper (you will need to season this)
Place water, couscous, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the couscous is al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve 5(ish) cups of cooking liquid. (I drained my barley and measured the liquid and then recombined the two)
While the couscous is cooking, saute the onion and dried mint over medium in the oil until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the onions and oil to the couscous and water.
In a large, heatproof bowl, whisk together the yogurt and eggs. Slowly mix in some of the couscous and water, one ladle at a time, until the yogurt has warmed. This will temper the mixture so it doesn’t separate/curdle. Add the warmed yogurt to the rest of the couscous and water and return to medium heat, stirring constantly, until the soup comes to a light simmer. Do not boil! Remove from heat and stir in the herbs and green onions (scallions). Check the seasoning, you’ll need to add salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with extra herbs or green onions.