Thursday, December 20, 2018

Smoky Tomato Freekah Soup with Red Lentils

I love soup, I love using whole grains and legumes, and I especially love foods that have a smoky taste to them.  This recipe combines several elements to build a (vegetarian) smoky taste -- the freekah itself (more about that later), fire-roasted canned tomatoes and smoked paprika.  (I give alternatives if necessary).

Freekah is an ancient way of processing green wheat. It is roasted while still in its chaff (straw) which is what gives it a smoky taste which can vary very mild to somewhat stronger. It is used throughout the Middle East, the Arab world and North Africa. Find it boxed in some supermarkets or in bags or bulk in Middle Eastern and other speciality stores.

This recipe calls for the whole kernel, not cracked. Cracked freekah is broken into pieces ranging from very fine to large. If you can only find the cracked, use the largest variety you can find in place of the whole but note that timing and other variables may change. 

A special shout out to Jill Levine, whose love of freekah inspired this recipe.

Smoky Tomato Freekah Soup
Serves 4

1/2 cup whole, raw freekah 
1/2 cup red lentils
2 Tbs. olive oil plus more as needed
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked or regular paprika plus additional for garnish if desired
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
About 5-6 cups vegetarian broth or stock, divided (plus additional if needed)
28 oz. can fire-roasted or regular diced tomatoes with liquid
2 Tbs. tomato paste plus more if needed
Sugar and or lemon juice as needed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, parsley or mint, divided
1/4 cup plain yogurt (use non-dairy to keep vegan)
1/4 cup chopped red onion

Rinse and soak freekah in cold water. Pick out any floating or other debris. Drain. Pick over lentils, rinse in cold water and drain and towel dry.

Heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat in large pot. Sauté onions until soft and beginning to color. Add garlic. Sauté until golden. Add cumin, paprika and salt. Sauté 1 minute then add drained and dried freekah, turning until coated in oil (add more oil if needed). Sauté for 2 minutes then add broth. Bring to boil, then simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lentils. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with liquid, 1 cup broth and 2 Tbs. tomato paste. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until lentils and freekah are cooked through but not mushy (about 30 minutes but timing may vary greatly). Add stock as needed if soup is too thick. Add more tomato paste by tsp. as needed if it is too liquid and simmer a few minutes more. Taste and add salt if needed. If the soup is too sweet, add lemon juice by tsp. If it is too tart, add sugar by the 1/4 tsp. Stir in half the cilantro. Top servings with dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro, onions and paprika.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pastries from Nazareth

I have so much info and so many photos to share of my current trip, but I'll start with these luscious pastries from a generations old firm in Nazareth, Israel. The bottom left has a layer of cheese and is served warm. Above it are ones filled with nuts and soaked in sweet syrup. Consumed with lots of cold water on the side!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Panderia Haul

The pan dulce attendees sampled on my recent international food walking tour.  The drink is chumparrado, a hot chocolate thickened with corn meal. 

Friday, January 05, 2018

Making Mole with Ernestina

My friend, Ernestina, invited a few of us over to make Oaxaca-style mole. It's the first time I've made mole as a group activity, but it worked well. The mole recipe had 27 ingredients (not including making stock) and numerous steps. Ernestina (seen in top left) had us seeding and toasting three types of dried chilis (and then setting the browned chili seeds aflame prior to being ground into the sauce)

How did it taste?  Our immediate tastes were amazing with depths and layers of complex flavors. Ernestina, who originally hails from Texas and now lives in Northern California, says it tastes best after it rssts for a few days so th big dinner will be tomorrow night. 

Looking forward to the feast.