Winter has truly arrived here in Kirikkale. Frigid temperatures and a blanket of snow have descended on the city, prompting my hibernation and hot plate to go into full gear– roads haven’t been plowed and a trip down the street to the grocery store seemed daunting and fraught with slip-potential.
I decided to make do with what little I had stocked up in the ol’ mutfak (kitchen) and devised a “chicken freekah soup,” blending the fabulous Palestinian standard shurba al-farik with hints of the chicken noodle soup of my childhood (basically just that there are carrots). A simple and delicious one pot dinner that’s a little funk, a little familiar, and a surprising amount of flavor.
For those who have yet to be acquainted with the Arab staple turned cult favorite gracing many “supergrain” lists, freekah refers to roasted cracked green wheat. The name comes from the Arabic root f-r-k, to rub, referring to the thrashing process it undergoes during production. It is a standard grain found most commonly in the cooking of the Levant and Egypt, though it has recently found new life in chef’s kitchens across the globe. High in fiber and low on the glycemic index, with a delightfully chewy texture similar to pilavlik bulgur, it also is a lovely addition to salads, or on its own as a side dish with poultry or lamb. In any event, it’s freek-in awesome.
One chicken breast
1 cup freekah, rinsed
Garlic (to taste, I minced 4 small cloves)
Thyme or Zaatar
Gently sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil, then add carrots. After a few minutes add the freekah and stir continuously for a few minutes, to toast it. Add water and bring to a boil. After boiling for 5-10 minutes, add the chicken to poach it. When cooked, remove and shred using two forks. Return to pot. Season with lemon juice and healthy scoops of dried mint and zaatar (or any selection of fresh herbs you may have on hand). If you like,(I love!) serve hot with a dollop of plain yogurt.
Snuggle up with the bowl and a book, and you’ll forget the snow outside.
Afiyet olsun! Sahtein! Enjoy!