Maria’s Tanomenos Sourvas – Pontian-Greek Yoghurt & Barley Soup Recipe

Tanomenos Sourvas is a Pontian Yoghurt and Barley Soup. This family recipe comes from Maria Tsalkos @magicalsunsettours, whose maternal and paternal heritage is Pontian Greek.

The first time Maria had this soup, was at the age of 6 years, in her maternal grandmother’s home in the village of Promachonas, Serres, Greece. She remembers taking her first spoonful and exclaiming how much she loved it. Maria recalls looking across at her grandmother, as she enjoyed her soup, and seeing her grandmother smiling gently and lovingly. Her grandmother’s eyes were filled with a deep sense of fulfilment seeing her granddaughter enjoying a dish so close to the family’s heart.
Make this simple and extraordinarily delicious soup and experience the satisfaction that comes with seeing your loved ones enjoy a hearty, wholesome and flavoursome bowl of goodness!

Maria's Tanomenos Sourvas - Pontian-Greek Yoghurt & Barley Soup Recipe

Tanomenos Sourvas is a simple yet extraordinary Pontian Yoghurt and Barley Soup

Course greek soup, Soup
Cuisine Greek
Keyword barley, soup, yoghurt


You will need…

  • 3 lt water
  • 300 g pearl barley
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 40 g butter
  • 40 ml extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • 1 kg Greek Yoghurt


Preparing the seasoning

  1. Brown the butter in a medium fry-pan

  2. Add the EVOO, oregano and the mint

  3. Fry the herbs on medium heat till they release their aroma (1 – 2 minutes)

  4. Leave to cool

Preparing the pearl barley

  1. Add the water to a large pot and bring to the boil

  2. Add the pearl barley and boil until it just splits

  3. Turn off heat and allow to rest while you temper the yoghurt

  4. Reserve 6 ladles of the stock (to temper the yoghurt)

Tempering the yoghurt

  1. Place the yoghurt in a large bowl and whisk until smooth

  2. While stirring the yoghurt continuously, slowly add the reserved stock and mix well

Preparing the tanomenos sourvás

  1. While stirring the barley soup, add the tempered yoghurt into the pot and mix well

  2. Add the butter-oil-herb mixture to the pot and mix well once more

Serving the tanomenos sourvás

  1. Enjoy the soup as is or with some crusty bread. Kali Orexi!

  2. Serves 6-8 people

Key Points

• Traditionally this dish was made with barley that had been previously boiled in buttermilk. When milk was churned into butter, the buttermilk (‘tan’ in Pontian) that was collected was used to boil the barley. The barley split and thickened as it cooked. The split barley was then strained and left to dry. This dried, ‘tanomeno’ barley was then used as the base for this soup. If you have the time and the inclination to do this, wonderful! Otherwise, whole pearl barley works beautifully!

• About half of the stock will be boiled off and/or absorbed by the barley

• You may need help tempering the yoghurt; someone to stir the yoghurt continuously and someone to slowly add the stock; otherwise the yoghurt may curdle

• Maria’s grandmother only used butter in her soup. You can use 80g of butter in place of the 40g butter and 40ml EVOO that Maria uses

• The butter-oil-herb mixture (whose aroma will drive you wild) must cool before being added to the soup; otherwise the yoghurt in the soup will curdle

• This is the perfect soup to nurse the sick with!!!

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