APBOUR — ԱՊՈՒՐ. Armenian Yogurt and Barley soup
1 bunch Dill, leaves Picked
I have so many distinct memories of either my mother or her mother at the stove, with a wooden spoon in hand, stirring a big pot of apbour. For us it was total comfort food, and in the cold months, there was always a pot of abpour in the kitchen, either left on the stove or in the fridge.
My version of this classic Iranian-Armenian soup is a bit different. Unlike the soup I grew up with, which was thickened with a bit of flour, I use egg yolks. Moreover, I enrich the soup with a bit of cream and further elevate it with the addition of chives. The final flourish — which I’m happy to say my mother approved — is the drizzle of curry oil on the soup right before it’s served.
Since the soup only uses a small amount of barley, and I find it silly to only cook a small amount of barley, I make a small salad with the leftover barley by tossing it with the extra herbs, diced carrots and parsnips, and season it with olive oil and lemon. You could use any variety of vegetables or greens to make a salad with the leftover barley.
To make the curry oil, in a small bowl, combine the curry powder and the oil. Mix well and put aside. Repeat after the curry has settled. This could be done the night before. The oil keeps well if kept in the fridge for at least a month.
To cook the barley, melt the two tablespoons of butter in a heavy bottomed pan, add the grated onion and garlic and cook if for a few minutes, until the mixture is soft and dry. Add the barley and mix well. Add enough water to cover the barley by an inch or two. Allow to cook until the barley is cooked thru but not mushy.
While the barley is simmering, in a medium sized bowl, combine the milk, yogurt and cream together and add the egg yolks and mix well to combine.
Once the barley has cooked through, strain it and put aside a cup and a half, and reserve the rest for the salad.
In a heavy bottomed pot large enough to hold the soup, heat the vegetable/chicken stock and the barley for the soup. Once mixture is hot, one ladle at a time, slowly add the hot mixture to the yogurt and egg mixture to temper the yogurt/egg mixture. Repeat until at least half the soup is added to the yogurt mixture.
Pour the yogurt mixture into the pot with the stock and barley and slowly, while gently mixing the soup bring it to a gentle simmer. DO NOT BOIL THE SOUP, it will curdle the egg.
Strain the curry oil mixture through a coffee filter or a kitchen paper towel.
The various components of the soup could be make in advance, and then once the soup is hot and ready to serve, add about a tablespoon of each herb to the soup, mix, adjust seasoning and if needed add a few drops of lemon juice, ladle into soup bowls and drizzle with curry oil.