When winter hits and the cooler weather sets in, I crave nothing more than a giant bowl of chicken soup. Growing up in a Middle Eastern household, my mom would often flavor our chicken soup with bright lemon juice, pungent garlic and warm cinnamon.
Instead of the traditional egg noodles, she would add chickpeas for added protein and fiber. For even more of a nutritional punch, this time I decided to throw in leftover cooked freekeh that I had sitting in the fridge. If you’re not familiar with this Middle Eastern ancient grain, it tastes similar to bulgur wheat but is a bit chewier and has more of a nutty, rich flavor.
Just before serving the soup, my mom would always throw in a big handful of spinach leaves and garnish with plenty of fresh minced parsley. Delicious on its own or served with a side of freshly baked pita bread and hummus, your family is going to love this Middle Eastern version of the classic chicken soup.
Middle Eastern Chicken Soup with Freekeh
Makes 12 cups | Serves 6
- 1 medium Onion – diced
- 2 Carrots – peeled and diced
- 3 Celery Stalks – diced
- 3 cloves Garlic – minced
- 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
- 8 cups Chicken Stock – low sodium
- 20 ounces boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
- 14 ounce can Chick Peas – drained and rinse
- juice of one Lemon
- 8 cups Spinach leaves
- 1 cup cooked Freekeh
- minced Parsley
- Heat a large soup pot over medium high and spray with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.
- Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, cinnamon, salt and pepper to the pan. Cook until vegetables are softened, stirring frequently, about 7-9 minutes.
- Pour chicken stock into the pan and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.
- Remove cooked chicken breasts from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Shred chicken or dice then return to the pot.
- Add chick peas, lemon juice, spinach and freekeh to the soup. Heat until spinach is wilted, about 5 additional minutes.
- Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly before serving with fresh minced parsley.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 261 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 g trans fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 1187 mg sodium, 32 g carb, 7.4 g fiber, 6.3 g sugar, 29.2 g protein
Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station. Through healthy eating and regular exercise, Liz has successfully achieved a personal weight loss milestone and has a passion for helping others reach similar goals. New in 2013, Liz launched Healthy Habits, a feature on The Lemon Bowl where her loyal readers and growing audience can find practical advice, resources and information on creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.