NPR predicts that freekeh is one of the new foods to watch in 2014.
Freekeh is a very nutritious and filling ancient grain. It has a low glycemic index, according to Eatright.org , and is higher in protein and fiber than other grains.
Freekeh is a really rustic food that has been around in the Middle East forever. It is roasted green (young) wheat. It can be cooked in soup, as in this recipe. It can also be cooked as a rice substitute.
You can find it in whole or cracked forms, and either works in this recipe.
My children are not soup fans. They will eat them, but I have to drain out most of the liquid in most of the soups that I make so that they like them more (obviously this does not work for pureed soups, but we like our soups chunky. If it is a soup like split pea or red lentil, I will rip up some pita and throw it in there to give some body to the soup). They do like freekeh soup, because it is not as watery as some other soups.
This is not exactly the traditional freekeh soup, which usually has lamb. I’ll post that one sometime, but I went with a lighter chicken soup this time because it was a mild rainy day, and I feel like the heartier lamb freekeh soup is more suited to a very cold winter day.
Chicken Freekeh Soup
2 complete chicken legs (so 2 thighs, and 2 drumsticks)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/3 bunch chopped parsley
1 onion chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 teaspoons cumin
salt, to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 carrots, sliced into medallions
1-2 bay leafs
Pinch Italian seasoning
1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, drained
1 potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 cup freekeh
1 cardamom pod
1 clove (optional)
First, rinse freekeh in several changes of cold water. Add 2 cups of water and let soak until you add it to the soup.
Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in medium pot.
Add parsley, cubanelle pepper, onions, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Saute a minute or so, then cover and reduce heat to medium to sweat out the onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes.
Add chicken, potatoes, and carrots, stir, and cover for another 5 minutes. Add 12 cups of water, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1-2 bay leafs, cardamom, ginger, clove, and a pinch of Italian seasoning and let come to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes.
Add soaked freekeh and chickpeas, and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-45 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until freekeh is tender, adding more water or stock if necessary.
Debone and shred chicken, if desired.
Note – you can really adjust the liquid according to how you like it. Some people like it to be really thick, almost like a porridge, while others like it thinner. You can have a kettle of boiled water at the end to thin out as necessary if you see that the soup is thickening too quickly for the freekeh to cook completely, or if you simply would like a thinner soup.