Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two Soups from My Imagination & Pantry

I just made a couple soups for lunch without recipes or much planning. The one preliminary was that I had soaked about a cup of wheat berries in water for about 24 hours, then cooked gently in water until softened...30 minutes? I don't know exactly, I was watching Battlestar Galactica (this fall's television obsession) while they cooked. I drained them and then sprinkled olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper until they tasted good, then put them in the fridge for some future use...perhaps a soup or salad? I wasn't sure at the time. All together, it took about 10 minutes of my attention over the course of a day to get the wheat berries ready.

Wheat Berry, Chard, Sauerkraut, & Beef Soup
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks chard, stems chopped, leaves torn
1 pint beef broth
1/2 pint of leftover jar of tomato sauce
half of leftover pot roast, shreddd
1 cup soaked and cooked wheat berries
1/2 cup sauerkraut
salt, pepper to taste

Saute the onions and celery for this recipe and one below until soft. Remove half onions and celery. Add chard stems and saute for a few minutes, then add garlic and saute briefly. Add beef broth, tomato sauce, pot roast, wheat berries and chard leaves. Season, then simmer for 10 minutes, until chard leaves are soft. Add sauerkraut and cook briefly, just until warmed through.

Wheat Berry, Tomato, Sauerkraut & Bean Soup
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint frozen chicken broth
1/2 pint tomato sauce
1 15-oz can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup soaked and cooked wheat berries
1/2 cup sauerkraut
salt, pepper, celery seed, parsley

While sauteing onions and celery in one pan, begin thawing frozen chicken stock in a second pan. When there is 1/2-inch of liquid broth in the pan, add garlic. Add onions and celery from first pan. Once broth is completely thawed, add beans, wheat berries, then season to taste. Cook over a medium flame for a few minutes. Add sauerkraut and cook briefly, just long enough to warm through, but not long enough to softened. Serve!

The sauerkraut was an after thought, but I'm so glad I thought of using it, as it added both taste and texture to these soups. Like other sour foods, it brightened the flavor of the other ingredients, plus it added its own complex flavor. Because I didn't cook it for long, it remained noticeably crunchy. If I hadn't added the sauerkraut, I might have tried a little more balsamic. The kids slurped up the milder bean soup, while Mike and I enjoyed the more sour and complex beef soup. Mmmmmm...good!

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