Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tomato-Freekeh Soup: Healthy Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I am 'freekeh-ing' out today. OK, that was bad. My apologies...  ;-) I did acquire a large bag of freekeh at Costco recently and you may find several recipes featuring this ancient grain over the next few weeks. I had been wanting to try freekeh--a bulgur-like roasted green wheat for a while now--ever since finding a pilaf recipe featuring it in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. When I went to look for it at Whole Foods and some of my local natural foods stores I was put off by the price--$15 or more for a small 8 oz bag here which is too spendy for me. So, I was delighted to find the 3-lb bag at Costco for $9.99. Hopefully it will become like quinoa and will eventually become easier to find and less costly if its popularity increases. Nutritionally it has 11 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup serving--not too shabby for a quick-cooking grain.

Mark Bittman is often my go-to guy for easy recipes that are full of flavor. I have been meaning to make his Tomato-Bulgur Soup from The Food Matters Cookbook and since freekeh has a similar texture, I thought it would be a good way to work in some of my bulk bag. I used canned Italian tomatoes (so much more flavor then their American counterparts) and a mock-chicken stock which along with the onion, (extra) garlic, white wine and thyme gave this thick soup a great flavor. It's a healthy, comforting bowl of soup.  

Bittman says, "There’s no faster, surer way to enrich soup than by stirring in a handful of grains; they absorb the surrounding flavors and release starch to make the broth thick and creamy. Bulgur is ideal because it cooks in a flash, but you can use whatever you’ve got, including already cooked grains (leftovers are perfect) or ground grains like cornmeal. Depending on which you choose, the cooking time may decrease or increase from a little to (rarely) a lot, and you might need to add more liquid." 

Tomato-Freekeh Soup
Adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
(Serves 4)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 large celery stalk, chopped 
1 Tbsp minced garlic (I used 2 Tbsp)
salt and black pepper
1⁄2 cup white wine
3 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; include their juice)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
5 to 6 cups vegetable stock or water, or more as needed
3⁄4 cup bulgur (I subbed freekeh)
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish, optional

Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften and turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the white wine and cook, stirring to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan, for about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break up, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the stock and bulgur freekkeh, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat so the mixture gently bubbles. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the bulgur freekeh is tender, about 10 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more stock or water. (You can make the soup up to this point and refrigerate for several days or freeze for months. Gently reheat before proceeding.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the parsley and Parmesan if you’re using them, and serve.

Notes/Results: Warming, satisfying and tasty, this bowl of soup made me happy. The texture of the freekeh is pleasing (again much like a coarse bulgur), bulking up the soup and giving it a slightly toasted, nutty taste that worked well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and onions. I did add a little microplane-grated Parmesan to the soup--which adds a nice richness, but it was perfectly good without it so if you want to make it vegan or can't have dairy, just leave it off. If you can't find bulgur or freekeh, use your grain of choice. This soup was quick and simple to make and very easy to throw together from the pantry. I would make it again.  

This soup is being linked to Potluck Week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. It's the week that we can cook from our current chef Donna Hay or any of our previous IHCC chefs. You can see what everyone made when the post goes live on Monday.

Let's check out the Souper Sundays kitchen where good friends and good dishes await!

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food has two soups to share this week. First up, this Hong Kong-Style Breakfast Macaroni Soup. She says, "Thin strips of ham over macaroni soup - do you find this combo. of ingredients weird?  Ham and macaroni soup, a Western-style dish typically served as breakfast in Hong Kong, and often found in Hong Kong-style tea cafes. My hb who always enjoys home-cooked chicken macaroni soup strangely finds the combination (of plain macaroni in saltish broth topped with a few thin strips of ham) weird. However, it was surprising that  when I cooked a similar breakfast dish at home one day, he finished it all in no time!"

About her second soup, Tigerfish says, "A combination of frozen and fresh describes this Organic Spinach, Pea and Jalapeno Soup. I have enjoyed the advantage of harvesting jalapeno from the garden, whenever I want. Fresh! Sadly, right now, as I am writing this post, our jalapeno plant is already gone, taken away by winter and our lack of care. Frozen organic spinach and organic peas make the soup almost entirely instant. So quick. Done in a matter of minutes within a few blitz from the magical hand-blender. This soup pairs well with sandwiches..."   

Janet of The Taste Space is here with South of the Border Tortilla Soup and says, "Not your typical tortilla soup topped with tortillas, rather the tortillas are blended INSIDE your soup. Before I found corn tortillas in Houston, I considered substituting masa harina/masa arepa, but now I had no excuse. Make thee some Mexican-inspired soup. Black beans, corn, green chiles, tomatoes, cumin and corn tortillas. All in one soup. Topped with avocado and cilantro. It reminded me of a grown-up version of one of my favourite soups from university: stupid easy black bean and salsa soup.

Mireille from Chef Mireille's East West Realm brings a soup and a salad to Souper Sundays this week. First, her Amaranth/Dasheen Cauliflower Soup about which she says, "Calaloo is the name originating from the West Africans who came to the Caribbean, but the English word is amaranth. Dasheen bush is also sometimes used for calaloo. These are the leaves of the taro root plant. In recent years, amaranth has become popular in health food circles. However, the grains or the milled flour is usually used. It is still difficult to locate amaranth leaves in a generic or even health food supermarket. It is readily available in Indian supermarkets, who use this green leaf vegetable as well. So take an excursion to a Caribbean or Indian supermarket and make this delicious Indian inspired soup."

Mireille's salad is this classic Tabbouleh Salad. She says, "Tabbouleh is a bulgur salad of Arab origin popular throughout the Middle East in the countries of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine & Israel. It is very popular in the West and you will easily encounter this salad in many eating establishments. Middle Eastern and Eastern European markets who cater to people who eat bulgur in many forms will sell many different types of bulgur. The usual options are fine, medium coarse, coarse and extra coarse. While most people in the West usually make tabbouleh with fine bulgur, I prefer to use medium coarse as I find the fine bulgur becomes too mushy."

It's a colorful Beet Salad with Mint, Lemon and Celery from Judee at Gluten Free A-Z Blog this week. She says, "After roasting them, I made a beet salad with mint, lemon, and celery. It was easy and delicious. Of course the roasted beets were so sweet and tender, I could have just eaten them plain. Fresh vegetables like beets are a perfect food on the gluten free diet. They provide great taste and great nutrition. This salad is light and delicious and makes an interesting side dish with just about any meal. For a real treat, put a tablespoon of Greek Yogurt over the beets.

Since I don't make a lot of sandwiches, I had to share this yummy Bagel Sandwich with Lox and Caper-Dill Spread that I made being inspired by a great foodie fiction novel I recently reviewed "The Wedding Bees" by Sarah-Kate Lynch. Since I like to keep the capers and red onions on my sandwich and not rolling around on the floor, I made a creamy spread using (a healthier-than-cream cheese) kefir labne. Piled high with smoked salmon, lettuce, and tomato and served with honey-mint lemonade, it was a fabulous lunch.  

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I only found out what is freekeh this week while I was shopping for groceries! :O Thanks for the round-up.

  2. It looks beautiful. I've heard of Freekeh and have Plenty at home but so far have never seen it on sale to actually buy some and try it out.

  3. I remember a couple of Australian food writers started enthusing about freekeh before I left - so about 8 years ago - and yet it still isn't very common! That soup sounds really good though.

  4. I've never bought freekeh because of the hefty price tag, but I have had it and it is great! I can see it being the perfect filler in this soup.

  5. great roundup. I am lucky that I have been using freekeh for years. I live near a middle eastern enclave and there is not expensive at all. My Mom also recently came home with that bag from costco after hearing Dr. Oz rave about it. She'd forgotten she'd eaten it at my house before.

  6. Looks delicious, Deb! I really like freekeh (smoky!), too, and look forward to seeing what else you make.

  7. Really looks comforting and hardy. I have got to get cracking and use some of the recipes in Plenty. I don't think I have hardly even opened my copy other than to look at the beautiful pics.

  8. YUM soup! I loved the rich colour in this tomato soup. And the ingredients you used in this soup will surely make it taste delicious!

  9. Looks delicious! I have never tried freekeh before, not even sure whether have I seen it selling at the supermarkets around here. I have to keep a lookout for these wonderful grains.
    Wonderful roundup of Souper Sundays!

  10. That soup looks delicious - love all of the flavours in it. I hope you're right about freekeh becoming more widely available....I found it in a middle eastern store a while ago but it's now appearing in the organics sections of grocery stores with that hefty price tag.

  11. I hear such great things about Costco. We finally had one open up here a few months ago and I've been meaning to make a trip and check it out. Sounds like you scored some freekah at a huge cost savings. This is such a pretty soup, Deb. I'd love to give the freekah a try.

  12. I have to admit I have never heard of freekeh. Or seen it in any store. But then Quinoa just became available in the last year or so. When/if I find it I will try this soup.

  13. Couscous & ConsciousnessMarch 4, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    Deb, this is a wonderfully colourful and satisfying soup - you can always count on Bittman, can't you :-) I've never been able to find freekeh here anywhere, but I'd certainly give this a try with some bulgur or barley, or even some Israeli couscous.


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)