Freekeh is an ancient grain used in the region for at least two thousand years. It is basically wheat berries picked early when still green and smoked over an open fire. Freekeh is cooked like rice and has a wonderful smoky flavor, lots of protein, minerals and iron, in short, it is a sound health investment and delicious to boot!
In Lebanon, freekeh is cooked as a pilaf served with toasted nuts and either lamb shanks or chicken. I thought of combining it with a fresh tomato soup. Tomato and freekeh are a wonderful pair, plus it turns a simple soup into a hearty, filling, flavorful and economical meal. I added some chili pepper but it is fine without it.
Tomato soup with freekehJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern April 9, 2015 Soups, Soup, vegan, tomato, freekeh, roasted green wheat,
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Passive Time: 20 minutes
6 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
2 large onions, chopped yellow or white
4 cloves garlic peeled, mashed with salt to taste
6 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes can use cans (not recommended)
1/2 cup tomato paste or pasta sauce with herbs
1/4 cup basil can use frozen
2 teaspoon salt divided
2 teaspoon white pepper or black pepper, divided
1 whole red chili pepper, mild or 1 tbsp chili powder (optional)
1 cube vegetable bouillon or chicken bouillon (reduce salt if using)
6 cups water or chicken stock (reduce salt if using)
1 cup freekeh (roasted green wheat) soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes
1. In a saucepan, pour half the oil and place over medium heat for 3 minutes. Drain the freekeh well and pan-fry for a couple of minutes, stirring till the grains are coated in oil. Add 2 cups of water or stock, salt, pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes until the freekeh has swelled and is tender. If it needs more water, add 1/2 cup at a time until it cooks thoroughly.
2. In a large soup pot, heat the remaining oil and pan-fry the onion till golden; add the garlic and stir for a minute then add the tomatoes, chili pepper, tomato paste and remaining water or stock. Add the spices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the basil at the end. Purée the soup when it is thoroughly cooked, after tasting it to adjust seasoning. Serve it with the freekeh, combining the two in the bowl.
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