European Cream of Barley Soup

COB soup 5

When I think of the holidays, this is the soup that comes to mind as we have had it on our Christmas table for as long as I can remember.  This year I asked about it’s origin, assuming (incorrectly) that it came through Dad’s Ukrainian family.  Mom and Dad first made this soup as a part of their annual birthday dinner tradition – one of many beautiful aspects of their partnership.

When Mom and Dad were first married, they began a tradition of celebrating their birthdays (each of which are in November) with a full day of cooking a meal together.  They didn’t have the funds to buy gifts, and so they pooled resources in order to create a splendid meal.  Each of them would take the lead on several courses including appetizers, a soup or salad, a main dish, some sides, and dessert.  Beyond this, they also picked a theme for the meal – often Asian inspired or exploring a new cookbook. Over the course of many hours they would chop, cook, eat a course or two, go for a walk, come home and keep going.

European Cream of Barley came out of The Albert Stockli Cookbook which they received for their wedding and most likely was the theme for that year.  This soup stuck with them through their 40 years of marriage and will undoubtedly stay on our table for years to come.


COB soup 3


This recipe we doubled from the original and so this serves 8-12. It doesn’t freeze well, but is delicious the next day for lunch, and so we always make extra.

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 whole leeks
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 10 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 eggs yolks
  • 1 cup cream (heavy or light)


Steps and Notes:

  1. Chop the veggies
    • The recipe calls for a whole leek, so we chop up both the white and green parts
    • It is nice to cut the celery and carrots into small pieces so that you can get some of each on the spoon
  2. Melt the butter and saute the veggies in it for 5 minutes
  3. Add stock, barley, and salt and pepper. Let simmer for 1 hour uncovered.
    • See the before and after pictures below.
  4. Remove soup from the heat while doing step 5 & 6.
    • This is a good place to pause if you aren’t serving the soup for a while.
  5. Beat together egg yolks and cream.
  6. Mix 1 cup of warm soup into the egg/cream mixture whisking fast so that it doesn’t curdle.
  7. Stir all of this back into the soup and reheat (but don’t boil)
  8. Serve while still warm with some flaky bread.


Thoughts for Next Time:

  • I have no adaptations for this soup, as this recipe here warms my heart and palate.
  • Ok, one small note, I’d like to try making it with some of my homemade stock.

COB soup 2

COB soup 1




  1. A lovely tradition and a fantastic soup. Thanks for posting.


    1. Thank you for the note. This has always been a special soup for me and I was very excited to learn the depth of its origin! Have a happy New Year. –Deb


  2. Oh my that would be lovely right now! I am freezing my toes off!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is such a hearty and heart warming soup! I definitely suggest making it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will try it!!


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