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Ash Jo (Barley Soup)

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 2 hr 40 min
Ready in: 3 hr
Yields: 6 to 8 Servings


1 cup barley washed and drained
1 cup lentils washed and drained
1 can pinto beans (½ cup dried)
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (1/2 cup dried)
3 bunches parsley
3 bunches green onion
2 bunches cilantro
3 bunches spinach
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large onions, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon dried mint
14 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian version)
2 cups kashk

6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried mint
3 tablespoons oil



Bring barley and 14 cups broth to a boil in a large pot. Lower heat to medium low; cook for 1 hour. If using dried pinto beans and chickpeas, add them to the pan with barley, increase chicken broth by 2 cups. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Pre-soaking beans cuts cooking time significantly and gives the beans the moisture content they need to cook quickly and evenly without splitting open. To soak the beans overnight, place them in a large bowl. Fill with water, covering the beans by 4 inches. Prior to cooking, drain and rinse the beans. If you don’t have time for overnight soaking, place the beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Do not cover. Bring water to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

Add lentils and 3 cups of water to a small pan. Cook for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain, set aside.


Clean parsley and cilantro by cutting off the stems. Cut off the root ends of green onions. Wash, rinse and coarsely chop all the herbs.


Heat ½ cup oil over medium high heat in a large nonstick frying pan. Add chopped onions. Fry for 20 minutes or until onions are golden brown. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon chopped garlic. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon dried mint. Fry 2 to 3 more minutes. Take off heat and set aside.

When barley is tender, add the herbs, cooked beans and onion mixture. Bring back to a soft boil; lower heat to medium low; cook for 1 hour 30 minutes or until the ash comes together, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from sticking to the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning. The ash comes together when the liquid thickens. If the ash is too thick, add more broth or water to thin it. If it’s too thin, simmer uncovered to reduce the liquid.


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add chopped garlic. Fry for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons dried mint. Fry for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the color of oil changes to green. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add 1½ cups kashk to the pan, mix. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with kashk, dried mint and garlic.