Country we are exploring:  Iran

Continent:  Asia

Capital:  Tehran

Population:  77.5 million

Official language(s):  Farsi

Suggestion for fun image:  Chef Koochooloo riding on a magic carpet on top of Isfahan Mosques

Fun fact:  On the last Tuesday of each year, children in Iran celebrate the New Year by participating in the Festival of Fire (Chahar-Shanbeh Soori) and jumping over fire!

Bonfires are made in the streets and yards, representing good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Iranians believe that by jumping over fire, they will have enlightenment, good health and happiness throughout the coming year.

English recipe name:  Persian Chicken Barley soup (Sugar-Free)

Name of dish in native country:  Soup-e Jo

Type of dish:  Appetizer

Recommended season or holiday:  New Year’s

Serving Size:  6-8 people

Ingredient spotlight:  Barley

Barley is a very good source of molybdenum, manganese, dietary fiber, and selenium, and a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin. The fiber in barley can also help to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high in people with diabetes.



  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley, rinsed and soaked in cool water for an hour
  • 4 pieces of chicken (drumsticks or wings)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime/lemon juice
  • Water
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Big Chef Duties:

  1. After all ingredients in pot bring to a boil on medium-high. Reduce the heat, cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool. Drain the soup and pour into a bowl for later use. Separate the chicken from the bones and shred into small pieces.
  3. After chef koochooloo step 2, bring to a boil for a couple of minutes on medium-high heat, reduce the heat, cover leaving the lid a little ajar and cook for 45 minutes.
  4. To the pot add the shredded chicken and the shredded carrots. Add more hot water if needed. Cover and cook for another 40- 45 minutes on medium-low heat.
  5. In the last 15 minutes of cooking add the lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Little Chef Duties:

  1. Arrange the quartered onions at the bottom of the stockpot, add the chicken, celery, garlic, bay leaf, turmeric, salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients.
  2. After big chef step 2, place the soaked and drained barley in a large pot, add the strained chicken soup and enough water to cover up to 3 inches.

Learn while you wait:  

  • A clear drinking glass
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water
  1. Fill the glass about 3/4 full of water.
  2. Slowly pour the vegetable oil into the glass. See how the oil floats on top – cool huh? It gets better.
  3. Now the fun part: Sprinkle the salt on top of the oil.
  4. Watch blobs of lava move up and down in your glass!

First of all, the oil floats on top of the water because it is lighter than the water. Since the salt is heavier than oil, it sinks down into the water and takes some oil with it, but then the salt dissolves and back up goes the oil!

Presentation:  Serve the soup in a large bowl, sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve with warm bread.

Teach the kids how to say Bon Appetit in the language of this recipe:  Nooshe jan

Did you know?  Girls in Iran don’t always enjoy the same opportunities as boys. For instance, girls are not allowed to play soccer.

Conversation Igniters:  How would you feel if you had to live in a country where girls and boys did not have the same opportunities?

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