Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Turkish Barley and Sour Cashew Crème Soup

The original version of this soup is Turkish made with chicken stock, shredded chicken, oil and dairy yogurt. I have not made this in years but decided in the spirit of Ramadan this would be a good soup to try to make vegan. I substituted veg stock for the chicken stock, eliminated the chicken and oil and made a cashew crème for the dairy yogurt.

The flavor of this soup is very dependent on the broth. Make sure you are using a veggie stock with good flavor. Be careful of boxed stocks as they can be very high in sodium. Here is what I made tonight:

Turkish Barley and Sour Cashew Crème Soup
Serves 6 servings


1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced (allow to sit 10 minutes before heating)
10 cups of vegetable stock and/or water (it is important that you like the broth since it will give the soup most of its flavor)
½ teaspoon saffron threads (crush in between your fingers before adding to the pot to get more flavor)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to mimic a buttery background but not so much to make it cheesy)
1 cup hulled barley
1 tablespoon fresh mint finely diced, or to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely diced or to taste
1 cup raw cashews soaked and drained
2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
½ cup water
1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 cloves raw garlic, peeled

Garnish ingredients:

zest of 1 lemon
freshly ground allspice


Combine the onions, stock, saffron, nutritional yeast, and barley and simmer on low stirring occasionally. When the barley is soft add the mint and parsley and turn the heat to low.

In your blender combine the cashews, sesame seeds, water, acid (vinegar or lemon juice) and garlic. Process until the mixture is completely smooth.

When you are ready to serve the soup add the cashew crème and stir to thoroughly combine and heat the soup through.

To serve, top the soup with fresh lemon zest and a sprinkle of ground allspice.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 257.04
Calories From Fat (33%) - 85.8

Total Fat - 9.79g
Saturated Fat - 1.67g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 23.91mg
Potassium - 276.01mg
Total Carbohydrates - 34.67g
Fiber - 6.78g
Sugar - 2.14g
Protein - 7.48g


I couldn’t imagine how I was going to make this vegan since it relied so heavily on chicken flavor and fat. But I also thought I had nothing to lose to lose to try it.

Shockingly the vegan version is just as good and maybe better than the original. However there are things that can wrong when you are making this soup which I want to point out so you don’t make the same mistakes I have made in the past. You can easily use too much mint. The original recipe called for more and that did not work for us. A little mint is good but too much is just too much. ;-) The overall flavor is subtle so you don’t want any individual flavor to stand out. Use the allspice and lemon zest sparingly so they enhance rather than dominate. When you are using dairy if you heat the soup on high it will curdle. I don’t think that will happen with the nut crème but wanted to mention it for those that want to use yogurt instead.

The soup has a richness from the cashew crème that is offset with the hint of mint and lemon. We both really enjoyed it. However this is not your traditional soup.

While barley is a grain it is one that I really enjoy. Barley is reported to do a better job of lowering cholesterol than oats if you have that problem. We both really like the texture of barley with its soft but chewy character.

Food since the last post:

To go with the soup for dinner we had a salad. I know this really surprises you, LOL. This one was shredded romaine that I topped with a cold quinoa salad with dried fruit, mint, parsley, almonds, sumac and red wine vinegar. It was a good clean dish to go with the heavier soup.

It is getting late now so it is time for me to log out. I hope everyone had a good day.  Mine was busy but not too bad.

This recipe soup is going out to the SOS challenge for August.


  1. Happy Wednesday! That soup looks and sounds so good. I never really cook with mint. Not sure why, but I'm sort of afraid of it. The only time I really used it was when I made my dolmas.

  2. Your soup dish looks beautiful...I love the mint garnish in the center :-) Your presentations are always so nice!


  3. Heather,

    Happy Wednesday to you too!

    I don't cook with mint often either. Using mint is similary to cooking with fresh dill you need to add it a little at a time or it can overpower the dish. Once I started doing that my recipes with it were much more successful. ;-)

    hope you have a great day,

  4. Courtney,

    Thanks! :-) The little mint flower was so pretty I had to use it. ;-) Spending so much time with a "real chef" (Ian) must be rubbing off on my presentation style. Thanks for the compliment. :-)

    Dan and I both enjoyed this last night. We both thought the vegan version of the very "meaty" original was excellent.


  5. I never know the original had chicken. The first version I ever saw was in the classic Diet for a New Planet. Of course that used dairy buttermilk - I will have to try the cashew version!

  6. Susan,

    The original version called for double strength (reduced) chicken stock and shredded chicken. It was very "meaty". I have never read "Diet for a New Planet". Does it contain a lot of good recipes? I am always on the lookout for books to pick up.

    I hope you like my version of the Turkish soup.


  7. The soup looks GREAT! I will definitely try this!

  8. This soup sounds really interesting. I've never had anything like it. Glad it turned out so well.

  9. JL,

    Thanks, glad you like the sound of it. Dan really enjoyed it too. If you were a fan of cream based soups this is a healthy variation.


  10. Rose,

    That was my reaction before I made the original the first time too. Now it screams comfort food to me. ;-) I definitely got my carb fix yesterday.


  11. I love the Turkish inspiration. This is one country I've yet to visit. Maybe one day. Istanbul sounds wonderful.

  12. Aimee,

    Turkey is still on my list to visit too. A friend of mine from college had a Turkish roommate. I picked up a lot of food ideas from her.


  13. That soup sounds fantastic! I love barley but haven't had it since I started this ACD, though I'm gearing up to try again. This soup will be at the top of my list. :)

  14. Oooh, forgot to say: this is a perfect recipe to enter in this month's SOS Challenge, which features mint! The submission page is here--I'd love it if you submitted this recipe!

  15. Ricki,

    Thanks and I hope the barley agrees with you when you try it again. I also appreciate you pointing me to the SOS challenge for August. I just posted the link.

    I am making a roasted eggplant and tomato salad tonight which may also include mint. If I does I will submit that too.

    hope you are having a good Wednesday,

  16. Melisser,

    Thanks, that is very nice of you to say. :-) I am in a Middle Eastern mood at the moment and had not tried to make this vegan previously.


  17. This looks delicious! I love your modifications!

    Consider submitting it to AWED this month since we are looking at Trukish dishes. :)



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