Barley & Potato Soup (Volga German)

This wholesome soup and related variations have been winter mainstays in homes like ours across the Pacific Northwest for generations. The presence of allspice is a nod to American influence as the Old World flavorings most commonly used for this dish in the were dill, parsley, and pepper. The recipe is from Evelyn Reich of Colfax, a lifelong Palouse Country resident.

Barley & Potato Soup (Volga German Gashta-Katofel Sopa

  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sour cream
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 medium potatoes peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 4 strips bacon, beef soup bone, or ham hock


Boil barley and spices in water for two hours. Add 4 cubed potatoes, celery, onion, and carrot, and simmer an additional hour until vegetables and barley are tender. Fry bacon until crisp and add with drippings to the soup, or add soup bone to mixture. Place a dollop of sour cream to each bowl just before serving.