This cozy vegetable soup recipe features freekah, a whole grain that adds a chewy texture and a wisp of smoky flavor. It’s like a healthy spin on canned noodle soup!

Vegetable soup with freekah recipe

Ready for a seriously cozy soup that’s full of bold flavor? This Israeli soup recipe from the new cookbook Sababa features freekah, an ancient grain that’s starting to have a moment here in the US. This soup feels like an elevated take on the chicken and stars canned soup of my childhood, but 100% tastier and healthier. Says author Adeena, the freekah adds body and “just a wisp of smoky flavor, as though a blown-out match had passed through each spoonful for a second.” If that’s not a reason to try this out, we’re not sure what is! This recipe comes from Adeena Sussman, author of the new cookbook Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen. Keep reading for more about the book and this freekah soup recipe.

Sababa cookbook

About the book: Sababa

Sababa means “everything is awesome” in Hebrew, and this theme carries through the entire Sababa cookbook! It’s full of vibrant photography and fresh recipes from Adeena’s kitchen in Tel Aviv. Israeli cuisine has become beloved around the world, and this is one of those books where as we page through we wanted to make literally EVERY recipe. While the book is not vegetarian or vegan, it’s vegetable forward and has tons of beautiful offerings whatever your diet.

Before sharing her freekah recipe, here’s a quick Q&A we did with Adeena about her book and Israeli cuisine! Here’s what she had to say:

Sonja: You were born & raised in the US but moved to Tel Aviv in 2015. What is it about Israeli food culture that helped draw you there?

Adeena: I love the passion for fresh food – from a humble sandwich shop at fine dining restaurant to home cooking, if the produce isn’t snappy and the bread pretty much fresh out of the oven, it doesn’t get served. I also love how Israeli food is as much about a laid-back vibe of socializing and hosting as it is about the food itself. I also love the dozens of ethnic traditions, brought to Israel by immigrants from all over the world and also from home-grown Arab, Druse, and Beduin populations, that influence cuisine here. It’s a delicious melting pot.

Sonja: What are 2 dishes in Sababa you would say are must-try, hat say something about Israeli food and your own personal style?

Adeena: I would say the Tanini Glazed Roasted Carrots. They take a simple, expected dish and transport you to the Middle East by incorporating cumin, date syrup, tahini, and lemon into an addictive dressing. I also love the Cardamom-Cinnamon Cold Brew Coffee. By throwing a cinnamon stick and some whole cardamom pods into your pitcher before cold-brewing, it creates something familiar, yet unexpected.

Sonja: Tell us: why should more of us be cooking with freekeh? What are other dishes where you love to use it?

Adeena: Freekeh – smoked cracked wheat pronounced “freaky” in Israel – is chewy like farro, but with more taste intrigue! It’s a whole grain, filling and super versatile. In the book, I use it in a delicious salad with roasted grapes and lemony dressing. I often cook up a quantity of it and use it wherever I might use brown rice, barley, wheat berries, or any substantial grain.

Vegetable soup with freekah recipe

What is freekah?

Freekeh is cracked wheat, an ancient grain that hails from the Middle East. Similar to bulgur wheat, it comes from the durum wheat plant, harvested when the wheat is green. In Arab communities, young green wheat is picked and dried in the field over wood to create freekeh, a grain that can be used a million ways. The grain has a chewy texture and a smoky undertone.

Is freekah gluten-free? No. Since it’s made from wheat, it is not a gluten-free whole grain like quinoa and millet.

How to cook freekah? If you’d like to cook freekah on its own as a side dish or as part of a grain salad, here’s our master freekah recipe: How to Cook Freekah.

Freekah soup recipe

Tips on this freekah vegetable soup recipe

This vegetable soup with freekah recipe is seriously cozy and comforting. While it takes about 1 hour to make, most of that is hands off. The hands on time is about 15 minutes. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making this freekah recipe:

  • Soak the freekah. This recipe calls for soaking the freekah while you saute the veggies; don’t skip this step! The freekah absorbs some of the water: this way it doesn’t absorb too much of the broth.
  • If you can’t find kohlrabi, use celery. We weren’t able to source the kohlrabi used in this recipe, so we substituted celery instead. It worked well to give a little crunch and subtle flavor. (A few kohlrabi recipes we love: Kohlrabi Carrot Fritters and Beet Dip with Kohlrabi Sticks.)
  • Add more freekah if you’d like. Adeena notes in the book that you can add more freekah to give the soup a thicker, porridge like consistency.

Looking for more whole grain soups? Try our classic Mushroom Barley Soup or more unique Farro & Brussels Sprouts Soup.

This freekah recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Vegetable soup with freekah recipe

Freekah Vegetable Soup Recipe


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x

Description

This cozy vegetable soup recipe features freekah, a whole grain that adds a chewy texture and a wisp of smoky flavor. It’s like a healthy spin on canned noodle soup!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup cracked freekeh
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium kohlrabi (substitute celery if not available)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 1 Parmesan rind or 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh za’atar or oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Chopped fresh herbs (za’atar, parsley, chives, or scallions), for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place the freekeh in a medium bowl, cover with cold water, and set aside.
  2. Dice the onion. Peel the rind and tough outer membranes off of the kohlrabi and dice it. Peel and dice the carrot. Mince the garlic. Dice the zucchini.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large (4-or 5-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add the kohlrabi and carrots and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 minutes; season generously with salt and black pepper.
  4. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Drain the freekeh, rinse it with cold water, and add it to the pot. Add the broth, zucchini, Parmesan rind if using, za’atar, salt, and the cayenne.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the soup is thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the Parmesan rind, season with more salt and black pepper to taste, divide among bowls, garnish with herbs, and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Israeli

Keywords: Freekah recipe, Freekah vegetable soup, Vegetable soup recipe

More vegetarian & vegan soup recipes

Here are a few more vegetable-forward soup recipes we’d recommend:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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6 Comments

  1. Excited to make this recipe! I love Freekeh! Technical question: Since printing a recipe works better for me while cooking, I noticed the new recipe layout and saw the recipe title is now within a black box, thus using more ink while printing. Is there a way to remove the “black box” so its just blank? Thanks!

  2. One more detail….when printed, the recipe title fades into the blank box making it almost unreadable. Thanks for letting me share!

  3. I am on a heart healthy diet, Mediterranean low sodium, low sat/fats. I do not see these listed in the nutrition contents of your recipes. I am enjoying the ones I have made so far and would use more if I could understand these contents.
    Great recipes.
    Thanks,
    Norm
    I tried to post a comment but got an error msg back.

    1. Hi! You can always add the kosher salt to taste for any of our recipes. Our nutritional info is not capable of separating saturated fats from others fats.

      Thank you for reading!