Mesopotamian Barley, Chickpea, Lentil and Tahini Soup

A perfectly balanced meal in a bowl with legumes, a grain — in this case, chickpeas, lentils and pearl barley — and vegetables. For dessert, I served some jam filled buns. Certainly a good way to warm up on a cold day and this soup yields a good amount, so you can share with your friends. And the nutty flavor of tahini goes oh so well with the earthiness of the legumes, barley and kale. I received rave reviews and my husband will have lunch to take to work so he can avoid crappy coffee shop and fast food offerings.

Mesopotamian Barley, Chickpea, Lentil and Tahini SoupMesopotamian Barley, Chickpea, Lentil and Tahini Soup
Recipe by
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Published on March 29, 2011

Thick, hearty and filling Middle Eastern chickpea, lentil, barley and vegetable soup with tahini — a complete meal in one bowl

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours

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  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in enough water to cover and drained
  • 2 tablespoons butter, ghee or oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, green and white parts, finely chopped
  • small handful of fresh green chilies, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 12 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup brown, green or French lentils, rinsed
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cups kale leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • pinch of asafetida
  • pinch of ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • juice from 1 lemon or 2 limes
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, and set aside.

  • Heat the butter, ghee or oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, leeks, chilies and garlic. Stir for 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the chickpeas and pour in the vegetable stock or water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.

  • Now add the barley, lentils, salt and pepper and bring to boil again. Reduce the heat to medium-low again, cover again, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

  • Stir in the tomatoes, kale, dill, parsley, asafetida and spices. Simmer over low heat for another 30 to 40 minutes. Add more stock or water if necessary.

  • Stir in the tahini and lemon or lime juice. Partially blend the soup with a hand blender or in batches in a blender or food processor. Add more salt and pepper as needed and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, dill or slice of fresh chilies if desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

More Middle Eastern recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Marinated Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus with Olives
Middle Eastern Chickpea and Olive Salad


Roxan said...

Hi Lisa! I've had Silk Road Cooking for a few weeks now but haven't made anything with it yet. I've flipped through it several times though... and a few more times in search of an answer to a question I have. I've even looked at the amazon reviews to see if anyone mentions it. Do you know why some of the ingredients in the recipes have asterisks? I can't seem to stop scratching my head over it!

So glad to find someone else that also has this beautiful cookbook. :)

Priya Suresh said...

Soup looks absolutely comforting and filling...

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Roxan:

I love the book and have cooked quite a few recipes from it though I have not owned it for long. Just beautiful.

As for the asterisks, I am puzzled too! I just studied the book after your comment, and I still can't figure it out either!

Anonymous said...

A prefect comforting meal. It must taste really delicious. I prepare regularly lunch boxes and there are not many soups that are thick enough for it, so I will surely try this one. Thanks!

Susan said...

The explanation for the asterisks is found in the intro on page 56. : )

Theis looks amazing, Lisa. So glad you could make the time to join MLLA. I'm working my recipe today.

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks Susan. I missed that bit but I figured the asterisks indicated that the reader should refer to the glossary but was not sure.

CurryLeaf said...

I have heard a traditional Iranian barley soup ,but this one looks creamy and awesome.Very comforting soup .love the flavours you have used.