Looking for a soup that is filling, delicious,and healthy? Look no further; freekeh is definitely the one for you!
Soup is just one of those foods that people turn to in winter because there is something so soothing and comforting about curling up with a bowl. This soup is one of my absolute favourites because it is thick and hearty with its chunks of chicken, but the flavour is delicate and it remains light.
The word freekeh comes from the Arab word "farek", which means to rub, which is fitting since freekeh is green durum wheat that has been roasted and rubbed, thus creating its unique nutty flavour. While freekeh is become increasingly popular in the West, it has been eaten for hundreds of years in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
Here I am using a whole chicken in order to get a nice rich stock to use for my soup, but on days I am tight on time, I cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breast and brown it before the onions, then either add some stock if I have or a stock cube. You could also use lamb instead of chicken in this recipe, it's equally delicious. A vegetarian version can easily be made by omitting the meat and using vegetable stock. Whichever meat you use, make sure to skim the impurities so your stock isn't fatty.
Once your chicken is cooked, shred it as you sauté the onions, and then it is matter of throwing everything in pot and letting it cook for half an hour. Serve this soup with a handful of chopped parsley to give it some freshness and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy on its own or with a side of your favourite bread!
- 1 chicken (pieces, bone in)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 black peppercorns
- 5 cardamom pods
- 2 tbsp olive oil, separated
- I cup cracked (fine) freekeh (soaked 1 hour and drained)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tbsp mixed spice
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- Lemon juice
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and brown the chicken. Add the onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and cardamom pods, along with enough water to cover it by a few inches. Leave to boil, making sure to skim any impurities. Once the chicken is cooked, drain it, reserving the stock, and put aside.
- In the same large pot, add the other tbsp. of olive oil and sauté the onion with a pinch of salt to soften the onion without caramelising. While the onions soften, remove the chicken from the bone and soften. Add the freekeh, spices, chicken and 4 cups of reserved stock. If you have less than 4 cups, add water.
- Bring to the boil, lower heat and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until freekah is soft and the stock has thickened slightly.
- Mix in the parsley and serve with a generous squeeze of lemon.
Note: You can use chicken breast or thighs instead of a whole chicken and add premade stock or a stock cube.