If you are on the lookout for a culinary adventure that's equal parts comforting and extraordinary, you should try this phenomenal Freekeh Soup recipe. Picture tender chicken, nutty freekeh, and aromatic Middle Eastern spices dancing in a warm, savoury broth. This soup will have you coming back for seconds (and probably thirds)! 🥣🍗🌾
The warmth and heartiness of this Freekeh soup makes it perfect for those chilly evenings when you're looking for a satisfying and nourishing meal. So, as the temperatures drop, consider whipping up a bowl of delicious freekeh soup to warm both your body and soul!
What is Freekeh?
The name "Freekeh" originates from the Arabic word "to rub," which comes from the process of harvesting wheat while the grains are yellow and the seeds are soft. Afterward, they stack the wheat, allow it to sun-dry, and burn it to eliminate the straw and chaff, while preserving the moisture-rich young seeds.
They meticulously separate this roasted and smoked wheat, followed by sun-drying to attain a uniform flavor, texture, and colour. The intriguing method of smacking, beating, or rubbing the grains is the secret behind the name "Freekeh".
The ancient grain Freekeh has been a staple in Levantine cuisine for centuries. Now, it has proudly earned a spot on the world's superfood stage, alongside the likes of Quinoa.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken: You may use bone-in or boneless with or without skin. You can also skip the stock making process and use just water and bouillon stock cube.
- Whole spices: I have used cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaf and black peppercorns.
- garlic: don't have to peel
- onion - dont have to peel
- olive oil
- freekeh: the star of this dish but if you cannot source this, you can use other kind of wheat berries.
Note: Freekeh comes in three sizes - whole, coarse and fine. For the soup, you need the coarse or fine-cut Freekeh.
See recipe card for quantities.
As the weather changed, we both ended up catching a cold. A bowl of warm soup seemed like the perfect solution. One evening, I decided to give it a shot and made a batch of soup for the two of us. I started by making some chicken stock and then cooked the Freekeh with the stock. Interestingly, just the smell of the chicken stock seemed to make me feel better.
The process is very simple:
- Prepare the chicken stock
- Fish out the chicken and strain the stock
- cook the soaked freekeh with the chicken stock
If you have already have stock, then this soup comes even quicker.
How does freekeh soup taste?
Freekeh has a strong earthy and nutty flavour. I read that if you like Quinoa then you will like Freekeh too. The texture is chewy like brown rice and keeps you satiated for long as it is loaded with protein and fibre. Freekeh can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner in soup, pilaf or salad form.
While doing the dishes, I asked him what is that he did not like about the soup. He caught me off guard, saying, "It was good, but quite unique. Is this how it's made?" I explained that indeed, this is one method of preparation, and it's a fantastic alternative to oats, being a superfood whole grain. 😄 I'm planning to chat about this grain for a few more days, helping the notion sink in that it's becoming a regular part of our diet. 😝
Since we're not big on soups, I kept this Freekeh soup on the thicker side. But if you prefer it more liquid, just add extra water to your chicken stock. And if you've got chicken or veg stock ready or store-bought, you can speed up the process. Veggies aren't in my version, but carrots are a popular choice in many Freekeh recipes.
Well, Freekeh is the name of a grain and it refers to the roasted green wheat. While Freekeh may have local names in other regions like in India it is called Ghau no Ponk, there is no English name assigned for it. You will mostly find it being labelled as Freekeh or Green wheat.
Soaking freekeh reduces the cook time drastically thereby saving time and energy.
You can most certainly replace freekeh with other kind of wheat grain like pearl barley, whole brown wheat, jareesh, quinoa, bulgur, etc.
- 1 deep heavy-bottomed stew pot
For the Chicken Stock
- 500 grams chicken bone-in pieces bone-in (2 thighs, 2 legs) with or without skin
- 2-inch cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaf
- 2 green cardamom
- 2 cloves
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ medium onion chopped roughly
- salt to taste
- 4 cups water
For the Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder or allspice powder
- 1 cup freekeh rinsed and soaked for 30 minutes
Prepare the Chicken Stock:
- In a deep stew pot, combine all chicken stock ingredients.500 grams chicken bone-in pieces, 2-inch cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaf, 2 green cardamom, 2 cloves, ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves, ½ medium onion, salt to taste
- Add enough water to cover chicken by around 3-4 centimeters.4 cups water
- Bring mixture to a boil, then lower the flame to medium-low and cover.
- Cook covered for roughly 30 minutes, until chicken is tender and water is reduced by about an inch.
- Remove chicken from the water, shred, and discard skin and bones.
- Strain the chicken stock into a measuring jar using a sieve. You should have around 3 to 4 cups of chicken stock. You can always add more water while cooking freekeh.
Prepare the Freekeh Soup:
- Using the same pot, heat olive oil and sauté chopped onions until translucent.2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 medium onion
- Drain and add the freekeh, sautéing for 2 to 3 minutes to enhance its flavor.1 cup freekeh
- Pour in the prepared chicken stock and stir in your choice of spices. Season with salt.1 teaspoon cumin powder, salt to taste
- Allow the soup to boil until the Freekeh is cooked, usually around 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve the Freekeh Soup:
- Serve the hot soup with your favorite bread and olives. For an extra twist, add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.