Hye Thyme Cafe: Blor (Armenian Grain Soup)

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Blor (Armenian Grain Soup)

Blor (Armenian Grain Soup) : Hye Thyme Cafe

I was browsing through my Treasured Armenian Recipes cookbook for inspiration, and this recipe caught my eye, but it really didn't make sense to me as written. I tried Googling it but only found a few hits, each of which was the exact same recipe. There was one other hit that was not a recipe but referenced the soup, noting that they had included lemon juice in theirs, which is always a good idea - a little acid to wake things up - and they commented that some of the blors (balls) had broken apart.

The first thing that threw me was that one of the ingredients was oatmeal - not oats, but oatmeal, which would mean it was already cooked, making me think that maybe this recipe had originated from leftovers. It also includes bulgur, which made me wonder if that should be pre-cooked as well. Additionally, the only seasoning was a bit of salt, and the ratios seemed off - too little onion and tomato to the amount of broth and spinach. The recipe also called for boiling the broth, adding the blors to the broth, then frying the onions separately and adding those, the tomatoes, and spinach to the broth later.

I changed things up by cooking the oatmeal and bulgur together, along with pepper and cumin in addition to the salt. I also sauteed the onions with garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, then added the spinach and tomatoes (I used a mini-blend), with the blors jumping into the pool last. I really enjoyed this soup, but without the additional seasonings, it would have been rather bland. I also chose to use baby spinach, so I did not feel the need to chop it as referenced in the directions - the baby spinach wilted down nicely.

I was happy at first that the blors came out unscathed but noticed later when I went to refrigerate the rest that some of them had disintegrated. I'm wondering if that's a result of not kneading the oat mixture well enough. Not a big deal - it's still a tasty dish, and with the blors having fallen apart, it was like other soups that contain rice, barley, or some other grain.

2 c water
3/4 c old fashioned oats
1/2 c fine bulgur
1 t salt (divided)
1 t black pepper (divided)
1/2 t cumin
2-3 T butter
1 onion, diced
1 lg or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
10 oz carton fresh baby spinach
12 oz medley mixed mini tomatoes, diced
2 32-oz cartons beef broth
1 lemon

  1. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to medium and stir in the oats, bulgur, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, and the 1/2 t cumin, cooking for about 5", stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside. That will give it a chance to cool and allow the bulgur to soak up more of the moisture.
  2. Over medium heat, saute the garlic, onion, remaining 1/2 t each salt and pepper, and the 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes in the butter until the onions are translucent.
  3. Wash your spinach, removing any particularly large stems or chopping any large leaves, then add to the pot, a handful or two at a time, stirring until wilted down.
  4. Add the tomatoes and broth and allow to come up to a boil.
  5. While that's going on, knead or mash the oat mixture well - I used the back of a large spoon to mash it.
  6. Reduce the soup to a simmer, then roll the oat mixture into roughly cherry-sized balls, dropping them into the soup as you go along. (It helps to have a little bowl of water to dip your fingers in because the oat mixture is sticky.)
  7. Once the last blor is dropped into the soup, add a good squeeze of lemon juice and allow to simmer for an additional 8-10".
Blor (Armenian Grain Soup) : Hye Thyme Cafe

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