One of the exciting things about our new winter farm share with Enterprise Farm has been that, in addition to the lovely fruits and veggies each week, we've also received the occasional bag of wheat berries. These lovely little berries come to us via Four Star Farms in Northfield, MA, and are particularly exciting to me as I have yet to find many options for truly local grains. They are also exciting because I have never in my life cooked with a wheat berry! Word on the street is they add a bit of crunchy texture for a hearty whole grain bread (here's hoping my husband will break out his KitchenAid sometime soon) and recipes for wheat berry salad abound (throw in your favorite mix of cukes, feta, olives, etc.). But, when I finally had some time to get inventive the other night, I opted for my usual winter standby: soup. The wheat berries add a wonderful texture with their springy bite, and combined with beans you've got a complete protein. Here's what I put together--it's a simple, easy recipe that can be adapted to suit whatever your pantry has on offer.
Wheat Berry and Winter Vegetable Soup
12 c low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock*
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 t dried thyme
1 t red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2-3 good splashes of olive oil
1 c wheat berries
1 helping heaping of whatever winter veggies you have on hand--I used parsnip, carrot, kale, squash, and onion
1 can kidney beans, rinsed (someday, I will learn to cook with dried)
1 can canellini beans, rinsed
In a large stock pot, bring the stock, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and olive oil to a boil. Add the wheat berries and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour.
While the wheat berries cook, chop veggies. Add them to the soup when the hour is up and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until veggies are tender.
Add the beans and simmer for another 5 minutes.
*you may notice that many soup recipes call for 10 cups of stock--I like to use 12, as this often results in a big bowl's worth of leftover broth, perfect for freezing. When you have the sniffles, or just the winter blahs, nothing beats a rich, hot broth with a piece of crusty bread!
Warm, steamy, yummy.