Recipes From the Complete Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson

THE COMPLETE WHOLE GRAINS COOKBOOK written by best-selling author Judith Finlayson offers an abundance of recipes for year-round cooking, along with in-depth nutritional information and facts about the potential impact of whole grains on health.

Recipes from THE COMPLETE WHOLE GRAINS COOKBOOK: 150 Recipes for Healthy Living by Judith Finlayson (Robert Rose Inc., February 2008; Softcover/$24.95)

Wheat Berry Minestrone with Leafy Greens
Makes 6 main-course servings

Vegan Friendly

Here’s a hearty meal in a bowl that makes a delicious lunch or light supper any time of the year. Wheat berries combined with legumes and leafy greens, such as kale or Swiss chard, make a soup that is equally delicious and nutritious, containing a very high amount of dietary fiber, among other nutrients. I like to serve this soup for supper, accompanied by whole-grain bread and a simple green salad. Leftovers make an excellent second meal, a great snack, or a superb welcome home for hungry travelers.

2 cups cooked white kidney beans or 1 can (14-19 oz/394-798 mL) beans, drained and rinsed (see Tips)
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken stock, divided
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
_ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup wheat, spelt or Kamut berries, rinsed and drained
1 can (14oz/398 mL) no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cups coarsely chopped, trimmed kale or Swiss chard (See Tips)
Crostini, optional (see Tips)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine beans with 1 cup (250 mL) of the stock and purée until smooth. Set aside.

In a large saucepan or a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring, until celery is softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, Italian seasoning and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wheat berries, tomatoes with juice, water, reserved bean mixture and remaining 3 cups (750 mL) of the stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until wheat berries are almost tender, about 1 hour. Stir in kale. Cover and cook until kale and wheat berries are tender, about 15 minutes.

When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls. Float 1 or 2 crostini in each bowl, if using. Sprinkle liberally with Parmesan, if using, and drizzle with olive oil.

Tips: For this quantity of beans, soak and cook 1 cup (250 mL) dried beans.

For enhanced flavor, if you have a boot of Parmesan, the tough rind that is left over from a whole piece, add it to the soup along with the tomatoes.

To make crostini: Brush 8 to 10 baguette slices with olive oil on both sides. Toast under preheated broiler, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

When using leafy greens such as kale or Swiss chard, be sure to remove the tough stems before chopping. Also, since they can be quite gritty pay extra attention when washing. I always swish the leaves around in a basin of lukewarm water to remove any grit, then rinse thoroughly under cold running water before using.

Unless you have a stove with a true simmer, after reducing the heat to low, I recommend placing a heat diffuser under the pot to prevent the mixture from boiling. This device also helps to ensure the grains will cook evenly and prevents hot spots, which might cause scorching, from forming. Heat diffusers are available at kitchen supply and hardware stores and are made to work on gas or electric stoves.

Nutrients per serving:
Calories: 278
Protein: 12.8 g
Carbohydrates: 53.9 g
Fat (Total): 3.9 g
Saturated Fat: 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 12.0 g
Sodium: 85 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg

Excellent source of vitamins A and C, thiamine, folacin, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper and selenium. Good source of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), niacin, riboflavin, calcium and zinc. Source of pantothenic acid. Contains a very high amount dietary fiber.