Monday, August 25, 2008

No Cream of Broccoli Soup

OMG, this was quick - and easy - and tasty! It was a great way to use up a small amount of broccoli from the back of the fridge, but could also be used for a bright, fresh addition from the farmer's market, too. Julia Child offered a cream soup base for her broccoli soup, but I used her onion and rice base with a tiny bit of yogurt instead. Thank you, Julia, for all your wonderful soup bases!

The ways this soup could be modified are endless; just add 1-2 servings of any vegetable that you'd want to take a starring role: carrots, leeks, fennel bulb, spinach, red pepper, parsley, beets, Swiss chard, potatoes.... We may try each of these in turn, week by week, to see which ones fit better than others.

No Cream of Broccoli Soup
(makes two servings - a littler one and a bigger one)

1 cup sliced onion
1 Tbl butter
1/4 cup raw white rice
2 cups water
1 small head broccoli
3 cups additional water
1 tsp salt
2-4 Tbl Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Saute the onions, just until they are soft and translucent, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add the rice and 2 cups water.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat and cover.
  • Lower the heat and let simmer for ~20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and falling apart.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli by cutting the flowerbuds into small florets. Peel the stem and cut into 1/4 inch slices.
  • Boil the broccoli in the additional water and salt until just done, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Reserving the broccoli cooking water, strain out the broccoli and let cool.
  • Boil the reserved cooking water over high heat until reduced to 1 cup.
  • Puree broccoli and onion/rice mixture together in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Pour puree into the pot with the reduced vegetable cooking water, and simmer for 2-3 minutes to blend flavors.
  • Remove from heat and mix in yogurt or sour cream to taste.

Freekeh - a smoky substitute for bulgar or couscous

It's freekeh. Cool name.

Made of green wheat, freekeh (or farik in Arabic) is a very smoky base dish that would substitute well for bulgar wheat or couscous. The grains are harvested early, before they fully ripen and become dry, then the outer papery chaff is quickly burned off. The result is a smoky wheat that you can use just like bulgar. The generalized recipe for the whole (unbroken) wheat is: 4-5 cups of water to 2 cups of freekeh, adding 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbl olive oil if desired. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 45 minutes.

As a base for tabbouleh, it was *awesome*! The smokiness made the whole dish much rounder on the palate, almost like a baba ghanoush version of tabbouleh. This is a new favorite, I'm sure we'll be using this as a staple for a while.

Freekeh Tabbouleh
(makes enough for two - a bigger and a littler appetite)

1 cup uncooked freekeh
2.5 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl Moroccan olive oil
1 large fresh tomato
1 small red pepper
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup minced fresh curly parsley (Italian is less tasty for this dish)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tbl Moroccan olive oil
few grinds black pepper

  • Bring the freekeh in water, salt and oil to a boil in a small saucepan.
  • Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Take the pot off the burner and let it cool while you chop the other ingredients.
  • Chop tomato, pepper, and mince the other ingredients.
  • Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper together in a medium bowl.
  • Add the cooled freekeh and mix.
  • Fold in the other ingredients, and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Let marinate for at least an hour. Serve at room temperature.
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