Barley (belboula) is an essential ingredient in Moroccan kitchens, where it's used to make soup, breads, porridge and couscous. Here, cracked barley grits (dchicha) are simmered until tender with onions, garlic and za'atar (wild thyme). Regular thyme or oregano may be substituted for the za'atar. Milk is added toward the end of cooking, and the soup is finished with a drizzle of olive oil or butter.
Serve the barley dhcicha soup for breakfast, as a light supper, or to break the fast in Ramadan. Also try the savory Dchicha Soup with Cracked Barley and Tomatoes, and the porridge-like barley soup, Hssoua Belboula.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
- 1 1/2 cups (250 g) cracked barley (large barley grits)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 liters water
- 1/2 teaspoon dried za'atar (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs)
- 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- 2 to 3 cups (500 to 750 ml) milk
- olive or butter, for garnish
Wash the cracked barley several times in a large bowl filled with water, draining each time, until the water remains clear and not cloudy. You may find it easiest to do this by first placing the barley in fine strainer, and then immersing the strainer in the changes of water. Leave the barley to drain while you start the soup.
In a small stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for several minutes or until fragrant and tender, taking care not to burn the garlic.
Add the two liters of water, barley, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the soup is thick like porridge and the barley grains are tender, adding a little more water if necessary. Stir several times during cooking, watching the heat carefully so that the soup doesn't boil over or stick to the bottom of the pot.
When the barley is tender and the soup quite thick, stir in the milk (additional milk or water may be used to thin the soup even more) and bring the soup back to a simmer for a minute or two. Remove the pot from the heat and adjust seasoning.
Serve the barley dchicha in individual soup bowls. A dab of butter or drizzle of olive oil may be added as garnish.
Note that the barley will continue to absorb liquid as the soup cools, causing it to thicken. When reheating, add more water or milk to thin the soup to desired consistency.