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Tahnabour (Armenian Yogurt Soup with lentils and chickpeas)
Tahnabour (tahn-ahboor) is a basic Armenian recipe but has many variations. The broth is made up of chicken broth and yogurt with mint. As far as what else you add, in general, the grain is usually whole wheat berries (or you can substitute barley). But you can make Tahnabour with pasta shells, or tiny meatballs, but my recipe has lentils and chickpeas along with the traditional wheat.
You can purchased whole hulled wheat at any middle eastern store, and most probably, a store like Whole Foods would have it as well. But if you run into a problem, whole pearl barley works just fine.
1 cup whole wheat berries (buy at middle easten store) or whole pearl barley
1/2 c brown lentils
1 - 15oz can chickpeas, drained
2 - 32 oz chicken broth
3 - tbsp butter
2 - Tbsp butter
2 - Tbsp dry mint
2 onions , chopped
2 cups plain yogurt ( I use lowfat yogurt, but whole milk would make it creamier)
1 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
Step One: Cooking the Wheat and Lentils
Sort through the lentils and whole wheat berries. In a large pot, combine the wheat berries and lentils and boil in salted water until tender. This will take about an hour. Once it's tender, you will need to drain it and place it in a large pot. Add the chickpease (drained) and the chicken broth and let it simmer.
In the meantime, melt 1/4 of a stick of butter in a nonstick frying pan. Add the chopped onions and the mint. Saute until the onions are soft and starting to brown a bit.
In a bowl, mix the yogurt, one egg and a Tbsp. of flour. This next step is crucial to the success of your Tahnabour. You must temper the mixture, meaning you need to slowly add some of the hot broth from the barley/lentil mixture to the yogurt mixture a little at a time or else the yogurt will curdle. So what I do is start adding one ladle full of broth at a time to the yogurt mixture, mixing in between additions.
Once I have doubled the volume of my yogurt mixture (increased it from 2 cups to 4 cups -- eyeballing it....don't measure)...then I'm ready to incorporate it into the rest of the broth.
The final step
Now you're ready to pour the yogurt mixture into the broth. Just like before, you can't just dump it in. Slowly dribble it into the broth while you are stirring constantly. This will result in a homogenous, creamy looking soup (with onions, lentils and chickpeas, of course).
Continue stirring but DO NOT BOIL. Boiling will cause curdling, so you want to get it nice and hot, but not so hot as boiling. Remember this when reheating your soup as well. No boiling.
You may add salt or pepper to taste. We usually serve this with a salad on the side, bread and cheese and a nice glass of wine. Enjoy.