Yogurt Soup with Barley and Spinach

November 21, 2010

So, I know this soup sounds a little weird. When I first mentioned it to Peter, he was not enthused. Yogurt soup with Barley and Spinach? I mean… what? And I know that the picture can only add so much. Yes, it’s a yellow-greenish colored soup. But really, this soup is good. It’s warm and hearty, and packed with flavor. I made a giant batch and ate it every day for lunch for a week until it was gone. A piece of good crusty bread makes the soup even better.

This is another one of those recipes that I used to love as a kid, but haven’t had for years now. It’s also something that definitely wasn’t vegan. That’s okay — I love a good challenge, and this soup turned out to be surprisingly easy to veganize. The key is to find some really good plain soy yogurt. For me, this meant using stuff that was home-made. If the yogurt is sweet at all, I really don’t think it would work. I’m not sure which cookbook this recipe originally came from, but here’s my version:

(Vegan!) Yogurt Soup with Barley and Spinach


  • 7 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 to 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lb spinach or 1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach (you could also use a mixture of greens)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups plain soy yogurt (1 pint)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, or 4 teaspoons crushed dry mint
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges to squeeze over individual bowls of soup


  1. Bring stock to a boil over high heat; add barley. Cover and cook for one hour, or until tender. Meanwhile, defrost the spinach (if using frozen), and cut into strips.
  2. In a small pan, blend the cornstarch and water. Stir in the yogurt and sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until it boils, then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter or oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft but not brown.
  4. Stir in the mint, and mix into the soup. Add the spinach when the barley is tender, stir in the yogurt mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for three more minutes.
  5. Thin the soup with more stock or water if needed, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the onion butter or serve on top of each individual bowl.
  6. Don’t forget the lemon wedges!


This Mixed Mushroom Soup is a recent recipe from 101 Cookbooks that also features barley. Unfortunately, with mushrooms being one of the main ingredients, I’ll have to make it when Peter’s not around. We’ll see…


2 Responses to “Yogurt Soup with Barley and Spinach”

  1. Wendy Says:

    Sounds fantastic!

    I always love the recipes that appear to be really strange, but are really delicious and healthy.

    The only thing I would change is swapping out kale for spinach. I’m a kale fan!

    • SevenofNine Says:

      Good idea! I LOVE kale. Earlier this week we made Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Kale, and they turned out really good. I actually used my Dad’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe as the base, and then combined it with a few others. :)

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