What is it about winter that makes us want to start making soup? Could it be the feeling of never ending cold, icy days that prompt us to start craving something warm and nourishing? Or maybe it’s in the convenience. Make a pot of soup in the morning in the slow cooker, it’s ready by dinner.
Make the right pot of soup and you have a nutritious powerhouse in a bowl. The soups I make are always full of vegetables, typically include dark greens, whole grains, beans and a nourishing, homemade stock.
Deep winter brings a craving for earthy mushroom and dark, hearty greens like kale. No wonder, these two vegetables contain powerful immune boosting nutrients such as selenium, B vitamins and vitamins A and C.
For this soup I used a little known whole grain called freekeh because that is what I had in my pantry. Freekeh is an ancient cousin of bulgur and has a nutty, hearty flavor. You can find it at Whole Foods or usually any grocery store. Feel free to substitute farro or even traditional barley for the freekeh. That’s the beauty of soup making, if an ingredient doesn’t work for you, simply substitute another in its place!
Other benefits of soup: make once, eat many times. I made this soup for dinner tonight, I will save some in the refrigerator for lunch tomorrow and the rest goes in the freezer for another night’s meal. Meal planning at its best!
Come spring, a hot steamy bowl of hearty mushroom soup might be a distant memory but for now it is here to help us through the cold, dark days. And I am grateful for that.
Wild Mushroom Soup with Freekeh and Kale
1 1/2 ounces dried wild mushrooms (porcini, shitake, etc)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup freekeh (wild rice would make a nice gluten free alternative)
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour (you can substitute brown rice flour for gluten free)
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, or baby portabellas, stems removed and chopped
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 small bunch kale, tough stem removed and chopped coarse
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons sherry
- Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 4 cups of boiling water. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, celery along with the salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and the freekeh and toss with the vegetables. Add the flour and stir constantly, coating the vegetables and grain with the flour, about 1 minute.
- Add the mushrooms to the pot and stir into the other vegetables. Whisk in the chicken stock, stirring constantly. Bring the soup up to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and bring down to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, strain the dried mushrooms through cheesecloth or a fine meshed strainer, reserving the liquid. Coarsely chop the dried mushrooms and add them to the pot, along with the reserved liquid. Continue to simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
- Add the kale, parsley, thyme and sherry to the soup. Stir and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. You may need to add more salt or pepper at this point. Adjust the seasonings and serve hot.
Copyright© Heather Carey, MS 2015
Want to dive deeper into soup making? If you are local to me, sign up for my upcoming cooking class Warming Winter Soups. Click HERE for all the details!