Mediterranean Grain Soup


Mediterranean in May

 I make a lot of soups, especially in Spring, Fall and Winter when the outside temperatures are cooler. There is something about sipping warm, soothing soup with some croutons or crusty bread, that is so appealing. Summertime too there are other soups,like Gazpacho which are refreshing.

mgs

Typically, my soups tend to be loaded with vegetables and beans or lentils. This one too has a lot of vegetables but for a change it uses Wheat Berries. Like Farro, wheat berries come from a variety of wheat, the only difference being farro is grown in warmer climates and wheat berries in the colder climate regions.

This recipe is adapted from the Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean book. Also known as Zuppa di farro, this soup is a specialty of Apulia in Southern Italy. Filled with herbs, wheat berries and an assortment of vegetables, it is a delicious and a soothing soup for a cold day, and even on a warm, spring day.

I adapted the original recipe to make 1/4 the quantity prescribed. Makes about 3-4 servings.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup wheat berries
2 cups water
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 yellow pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small potato, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh Italian Parsley
1 tbsp fresh basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
pinch of saffron
salt and fresh ground pepper

Soak the wheat berries for two hours or overnight. When ready to cook, rinse and cover with double the amount of water. To cut amount of time necessary to cook the wheat berries, I decided to pressure cook them. If cooking stove top, bring to a boil and cook on medium low flame for an hour or so, adding water as needed till the wheat berries are cooked and soften.

In a separate pan, add olive oil, onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Add wheat berries, basil, bay leaf, parsley, thyme and saffron and bring to a boil. Reduce flame and let simmer uncovered until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, garnish with basil and parsley and serve warm with bread or croutons.

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