As ready as I am for spring to be here in full force, I’m making the most of this extra time with cold-weather food. There’s no way I’ll be putting a pot of soup on the stove to simmer away in a month or two, so I decided to take advantage of the lingering chill here and do it while I can.
The timing was appropriate: A pot of this stuff, packed with vegetables and whole grains, provided the much-needed antidote to several days’ worth of meat-heavy eating.
With flavors reminiscent of a tortilla soup, the warming heat of ancho chiles, and the virtue of brown rice, bulgur, and barley, it wasn’t half-bad.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know. It was a bit too chewy for my liking; if I were making this again, I’d pick one of those grains and compensate by upping the vegetables. There’s no need to make this again, though, because I’ll be eating it for the foreseeable future; let’s just say that Food & Wine has vastly underestimated the amount of servings this produces.
Anyone want leftovers? I have more than enough to go around.
Spicy Grain Soup
From Food & Wine, November 2006
½ cup pearl barley
½ cup short-grain brown rice
½ cup bulgur
1 tablespoon light olive oil
3 ancho or dried mulato chiles—stemmed, seeded and broken into 2-inch pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 quarts low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1½ cups canned diced tomatoes
6 cilantro sprigs, plus ¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
1 medium parsnip, finely diced
½ cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds
1. In a medium saucepan, cover the barley with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 35 minutes; drain. Return the barley to the pan and cover. In another medium saucepan, cover the brown rice with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain the brown rice and add to the barley.
2. In a medium bowl, cover the bulgur with 1 cup of hot water. Cover and let stand until the water is absorbed, 10 minutes.
3. In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chiles, onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, cilantro sprigs and allspice and season with 1 tablespoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Puree the soup in a blender and return to the pan.
4. Add the mushrooms, black beans, carrot, zucchini and parsnip to the pureed soup and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the barley, rice and bulgur and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro and serve.