food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

freekeh-and-cabbage-soupI hope you don’t mind this simple little soup popping into your inbox or feed. I realise that other food bloggers are posting elaborate year-end round ups of their best recipes, and laying out plans for improving blog and blogger. I wish I had got around to the former, to be honest. I will however be making some changes here on food to glow (and probably on myself too). But like most things with me – to paraphrase Loyd Grossman – they have to be deliberated, cogitated and finally digested before coming to fruition. Watch this space. But not too closely: you may be waiting awhile.savoy cabbageThe soup I will not be changing. It is wholesome, full of flavour, and very January in its feel. A perfect soup to bridge the gap between shedding December’s excess and embracing January’s penitence.

We love the mix of textures and the subtle earthy vibe from the North African spices in this easy, quickly-made soup. It was a huge hit when I first made it for my family. I have used Savoy cabbage – so plentiful and cheap at this time of year. Of course I wanted to use kale – it is still growing in my garden after all –  but I know I bang on about kale too much. Use any winter greens that you fancy though. And for that matter, sub out the freekeh for quinoa, amaranth or bulgur wheat if you like, altering the cooking time as needed. And add in cooked pulses such as lentil or chickpeas to give even greater staying power and nutrition. I do that sometimes. So much for not changing anything!

Just a side note, I actually cooked the freekeh in a larger batch and hived off some to add into the soup just before I was ready to serve. But I know it would be easier for most of you to do it as a one-pot recipe, so that is what I have written up. Click on these links to find my recipes for preserved lemons and labneh. Both are in-advance kind of things (the preserved lemons take a month!). If you don’t have them just sitting around waiting to be useful, I have given alternate suggestions.

Other than this soup I have also just made (and we have polished off) my Hoppin’ John, for New Year’s Day luck Southern style. We ate this Creole-spiced black-eye pea soup mixed with another lucky food, sauerkraut – a highly recommended add-in. 😀 What soups are YOU making right now? 

freekeh-and-cabbage-soupFreekeh and Cabbage Soup

 Last year: Date-sweetened Carrot and Almond Porridge (love this!)

Two years ago: Tamarind and Shiitake Tofu with Sesame ‘Seaweed’

Miss R’s track of the week: Pinball by Childhood – exclusive vinyl release on January 13 (watch out for the backwards bit and the Pink Floyd bit, post-4 minute mark)

This is a simple cabbage soup given a facelift with cracked freekeh, subtle spices and preserved lemon: healthy, delicious and not in the least penitential. Add potatoes for more heft, but we like it as written, with the smoky freekeh standing in for the usual tuberous addition. Serve with labneh, Greek yogurt or a thick and tasty non-dairy equivalent. As with most soups, quantities of the vegetables aren’t crucial; just use your best judgement if you stray beyond the bounds of the recipe. Enjoy x

 Serves 6

 Rapeseed/Canola or Olive Oil – 1-2 tbsp

Onion – 1, chopped OR Leeks – 2, white only chopped

Carrot – 1, chopped finely

Cumin seeds, dry-toasted and lightly ground* – 1 tsp

Caraway seeds (or 1/2 tsp fenugreek) – as above

Garlic Clove – 1, minced

Cracked Freekeh – 100g (2/3 cup) OR bulgur wheat or rinsed quinoa

Vegetable (or turkey/chicken) stock – 1 ½ litres (6 1/3 cup)

Savoy or other large green cabbage – chopped (I used about 2/3 of one)

Labneh, Greek yogurt, Non-dairy Yogurt – to stir in for each serving

Preserved Lemon – 1 tbsp chopped per serving, OR Lemon Zest and a little juice

In a large lidded saucepan saute the onions – or leeks – and carrot over a low heat for a few minutes. Add the cumin, caraway, garlic and freekeh. Cook for one minute then add the stock. Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chopped cabbage and cook just until the cabbage is going soft – about five minutes. Or longer if you prefer less crunch.

 Serve with a dollop of labneh or yogurt and a sprinkle of preserved lemon or zest and juice.

More ideas for to get your freekeh on:

Lebanese Freekeh and Fig Salad (food to glow)

Freekeh, Zucchini and Pistachio Salad (Oh My Veggies)

Sweet Curried Freekeh Salad (Vegan Miam)

A bunch of recipes and cooking advice on

cracked freekeh

cracked freekeh

freekeh and cabbage soup

40 thoughts on “Freekeh and Greens Soup

  1. This looks lovely! Next time the cabbage is on sale at the store I’ll definitely be giving this a go.

  2. awoni3 says:

    Mmm that looks wonderful! Never heard of freekeh, shall attempt to try to find it!

    1. I bet you will find it in your local health food store, and of course on the internet. I have another freekeh post lebanese freekeh and fig salad (, in case you find the freekeh and want more ideas. Let me know if you make it.

  3. Shannon says:

    Ahhh…I see where the preserved lemon comes in handy!! I will use the single Meyer’s in the fridge for this one and bulgar (or maybe quinoa for a change) from the pantry. This looks sublime. We had our head of cabbage and black-eyed peas yesterday, if simply cooked. I put my zing was in the caesar salad instead. Thankfully, I have an EXTRA head of cabbage waiting to be used.

    This past week, we enjoyed a Lebanese lentil soup with turnips, no-meat chili, a Thai veggie-and-tofu laksa, and a curried squash-and-coconut-milk creamy variety. Each were served with a healthy portion of steamed greens (mustard, turnip, kale, spinach) or fresh salad and baked bread or muffins. Soups are great because, for minimal time spent in the kitchen, there is such enjoyment with a large crowd to just sip and enjoy and visit away.

    You don’t need a look back for improving your blog. Just keep on keeping on! Can’t improve on perfection. Cheers, Kellie. And Happy New Year!

    1. Great, great sounding menus. Just my kind of food (as you will have noticed!). Laksa is one of my all-time favourites and I have a recipe here on food to glow somewhere. But you won’t need it obviously. 😀 I am a bit neglectful of turnips as they play havoc on my digestion but perhaps baby ones are okay, esp in a Lebanese lentil soup. That really sounds lovely. Thanks for your always kind and generous comments, Shannon. I really appreciate the time you take to read and comment. All the best for 2014, and using that new kitchen of yours!

  4. Freekeh is definitely one of my favorite grains with its smoked flavor. It is staple food among Arabs in Israel and the region and has become very common in posh Israel cuisine over the past several years

  5. Laura says:

    A delicious soup! Perfect for the freezing weather here in ND.

    1. North Dakota? If so, that sounds very cold indeed. Much colder than here where it is in the mid-upper 40sF. You will definitely be into soup right now! I”d love to think this was being made in North Dakota. 😀 Thanks for commenting

  6. Shreya says:

    awesome recipe ! looks so delicious

  7. Urvashi Roe says:

    I love the idea of this soup and it’s really the perfect weather for it isn’t it? Does this one improve over a few days? You have also reminded me that I need to top up my labneh jar.

    1. You know, it has never made it past a day. I don’t tend to make large quantities of it (too many other things to make!) but I would just leave out the yogurt and I’m sure it would be fine. The spices would certainly get a chance to meld. Luckily the freekeh doesn’t seem to swell and take over too much upon sitting. Unlike pasta.

  8. improve2014 says:

    Reblogged this on Improve 2014 and commented:
    This looks healthy & delicious and perfect for a winter warming meal! Can’t wait to try it out!

  9. improve2014 says:

    Love this post! New to blogging, didn’t realise there was so much out there! Can’t wait to try this recipe 🙂

  10. foodbod says:

    Nice! I do like freekeh ☺️

  11. Sounds absolutely lovely and just the business after the Christmas fare. We’ve been eating loads of savoy too (in a wok with caraway seeds & garlic). Well we are still heavily into Jerusalem artichoke soup which I make with a touch of porcini salt (when loosening off the onions) and I add a little oat cream at the end too. Probs massively calorific but as we are without a boiler just now I think we need to pour in the calories to keep warm 😉

  12. Choclette says:

    I’m intrigued by freekeh – I have no idea what it is. I assumed it was bulger wheat, but looking at the picture I see it is something else entirely. Soup sounds delicious. We’ve been living of leftover soup.

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year

  13. narf77 says:

    The Tamarind and Shiitake tofu recipe was amazing! I don’t know how you do it girl but every time I see one of your posts I start to salivate, body and soul. I get a wonderfully creative post, cram packed with healthy ingredients that I very rarely even have to tinker with, I get past recipes that are also amazing (and that stop me having to trawl through the recipes page…busy NOT lazy (My story and I am sticking to it…) ) and I get some serious soul music from the fabulous Miss R. It’s like being given one of Mr Wonkers golden tickets and being told “GO FOR IT MA’AM!” :). I adore simple soups. I love them with a passion. Steve makes amazing soup and I will hand the (handmade) ladle over to him in order to give this incredible broda his magic. We don’t call him The Soup Dragon for nothing! Cheers for another amazing soupçon (get it?!!! 😉 ) of creative healthy and most importantly DELICIOUS soul food for we, your adoring public 🙂

  14. lizzygoodthings says:

    Happy new year again Ms Kellie… your soup sounds delicious… I haven’t had freekeh since it first made its debut in the 90s, if memory serves me right… but it’s an ancient grain, isn’t it. Happy cooking to you.

  15. Soup is on the menu this week and Freekeh and Greens sounds incredible! Happy New Year Kellie!

  16. wow this looks amazing. I have just blogged a soup too. Very simple, and delicious but I’m not sure it’s in this league! Happy New Year!

  17. looks yummy and warm

  18. Such a hearty and nutritious soup to start the new year off with Kellie. Love it! So here’s my confession….I’ve been taking a break from cooking much (after a huge Christmas feast) so the last soup I made was organic roasted tomato and red pepper…heated from a box! Just being honest here 🙂 Doing a huge fridge/freeze/pantry clean out right now, then I’ll be ready to start cooking again when the kids go back to school next week. Hope your new year is off to a fabulous start!

  19. This kind of a hearty plant-based soup is exactly what I like to make for skeptics who aren’t convinced you can have a satisfying and filling plant-based meal. Thanks for an inspiring idea. I love your use of preserved lemons sprinkled on top. We’ve been enjoying our friends’ visit and I have made a beet and lentil bourguignon and a black bean mole chili. 🙂

    1. Beet and lentil bourguignon AND black bean mole chilli? I think your guests will attempt to out-stay their welcome with dishes like that. Sounds well-lush, Katie! PS I put preserved lemons on anything vaguely suitable. I kid myself that it isn’t like adding salt. LOL!

      1. Ha, we often joke we feel like we’re running a B&B because we have way more visitors here than we had living in the US. 😉 I like the way you think, preserved lemons are a perfect substitute for salt! Although salty if you rinse them first, they have to be better for us.

      2. God, I hope so. But I do just use a little 😉

  20. Hello Kellie, one of my resolutions is to make more recipes rather than just save and store them.
    I have just made this one and it was a success! My flatmate even had 3 helpings 🙂 I like that it’s simple but tasty and love the lemony touch. I used quinoa instead of freekeh. 🙂

    1. so glad you (and your flatmate) enjoyed this! You know, I have the same ‘resolution’ too. I have virtual stacks of recipes crowding my files. I hope to have time to at least organise them mrs efficiently. You sound way more on the ball than me. 🙂 Super that you used quinoa. I always like to give as many options as I can and still keep the sense of the recipe.

      1. Oh yes we loved it!
        I have now created folders in my e-mail account for food according to what season they belong to (so this one is in “Food for the Winter”). I love that you always give us options, alternatives, vegan options too. And the fact that you are such a good writer is just a super mega bonus 😀

      2. Great idea. I have an unwieldy folder labeled “web recipes” Must try harder. I got a shiny new MacBook Pro for my anniversary and I ought to take this as an opportunity to be more thoughtful in my organising. As for this comment of yours, well, can I hire you to send nice comments like this everyday, whether I have a new post or not? Seriously, I couldn’t ask for a better comment. Thanks so much *big cheesy grin*

  21. aryana0821 says:

    I never try Freekeh .. the recipe is amazing and will be on my list …Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. Happy New Year Kellie! I knew you would come up with a wonderful recipe that also happens to be good for you at the start of 2014. I got back fro skiing last night and you know that that means. Far too much of the rich, dairy foods, breads, desserts meat with NO veg! I had quite a few nights when I was up with a bad tummy, I simply can’t take that food for long periods of time. So I will be on soups, salads and veggies for this month until my stomach becomes less bloated!

  23. Joanna says:

    mmm thanks for this recipe! Just what I feel my body needs after the christmas excess!

  24. You know what I really like about this recipe? I love that it looks like a deep, thick and rich curry but is actually tasty and healthy without the tummy bloating heaviness. Win-win xxx

  25. This looks great! It shares many flavor similarities with a lemony lentil soup I posted not that long ago, which I also finished with lemon and labne. I love the idea to use cabbage, too.

    1. Hi Allison. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I love lemony lentil soup (I have one that is a staple but still have blogged it!) so I will have to visit you and see what you do with yours. I am crazy about lemons so they feature a lot on food to glow.

  26. Just made this for lunch. Wow, it was amazing. I had an eggplant to use up so I roasted it with cumin and za’atar to top the soup along with the labneh and preserved lemon. This is going on my favorites list. 🙂 Thanks Kellie!

    1. Awesome Katie! I am honoured to have been in your kitchen 😉 That sounds like a great little topping too. I am always using up little odds and ends to make garnishes. Hate waste, and love to garnish!

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