Kamut, Kale & Cabbage Soup with Winter Pistou

Wet, bone-chilling Northwest winters demand a repertoire of inspired, nourishing, soul-lifting soups. So this January, LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen is all about soup. I’m challenging myself to create four new meal-in-a-bowl soups by the end of the month.

The guidelines are simple. The soups must be complete meals (with the optional addition of a crusty loaf of bread), rely as much as possible on seasonal ingredients, and make everyone who eats them feel that winter is not such a dreary time of year after all.

First up is a riff on Mediterranean Vegetable Soup. This soup is essentially a straight-ahead mélange of onions, leeks, bell peppers, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Nothing to write home about, right?

Wrong! Wait until you taste what happens when the soup is finished with a zippy pistou. French Pistou resembles Italian Pesto—except pistou contains tomatoes, no nuts, and Gruyere, instead of Parmesan.

Both pistou and pesto are based on olive oil and basil. But basil screams SUMMER and that’s not what we need to be reminded of in the depths of winter. So we’re going to swap basil for parsley and green onions and make a Winter Pistou.

Additionally, I swapped kale and cabbage for the green beans and zucchini in the original soup. I kept the white beans and new potatoes, and added the most nutritious of all whole wheat berries, kamut.

Kamut berries are buttery, nutty, and delightfully chewy. I could eat them every day. The berries are much larger than durum (common) wheat berries. Kamut contains less gluten, 20-40% more protein, and more lipids, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals than durum wheat.

Preparing Kamut Berries

Kamut berries need to soak overnight (or at least 4 hours). After soaking, drain, cover with fresh water, and simmer for 40-60 minutes, until tender and pleasantly chewy. The berries will plump to twice their original size. You can freeze prepared berries in 2-cup increments for later use.

Kamut, Kale & Cabbage Soup with Winter Pistou

This flavorful tomato-based soup is loaded with onions, leeks, celery, bell peppers, new potatoes, kale, white beans, cabbage, and kamut berries. It would be delicious if we stopped there. However, we will take this soup into the flavor stratosphere by swirling in Winter Pistou just before serving. To richen the soup even more, you can combine the pistou with an equal amount of mayonnaise, making a kind of herbed aioli in the process.

NOTE    Be sure to cook the kamut and beans before beginning the recipe.

Soup Base
2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
2 medium-sized onions, chopped (4 cups chopped)
2 large leeks, white and tender green only, chopped (2 cups chopped)
2 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup chopped)
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock, plus more if needed
28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
6 ounces tomato paste
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, minced

Vegetables, Kamut & Beans
2 medium-large Red Pontiac (new) potatoes, cut into ½-inch dice (1 pound)
4 ounces kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
12 ounces regular or savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped 
2 cups cooked white beans (in a pinch, canned beans can be used)
2 cups cooked kamut

Winter Pistou (makes 1 cup)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup flat leaf parsley, trimmed of stems
½ bunch green onions, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch lengths
6 ounces Gruyere or Emmenthaler cheese, grated
¼ cup cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup best quality mayonnaise, optional

fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice

1 cup parsley leaves, chopped
grated Gruyere

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole or soup pot.
  2. Add the onions and leeks and sweat them (cook over low heat with a tight fitting lid so that they cook in their own juices and do not brown) until tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the celery and garlic and cook without browning for another two minutes or so.
  4. Add the red and yellow bell peppers along with the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, and rosemary.
  5. Simmer together slowly for 20-25 minutes, until the flavors have a chance to meld and intensify.
  6. Add the potatoes to the soup base and simmer until just beginning to soften.
  7. Add the kale and cabbage.
  8. Simmer until vegetables are tender-crisp.
  9. Add the cooked white beans and cooked kamut.
  10. Season soup to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  11. While the vegetables are cooking, make the pistou by combining the garlic, parsley, green onions, and Gruyere in a processor and puree. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube and process until thoroughly blended.
  12. To serve, ladle into soup bowls and top each serving with a dollop of pistou, and a sprinkle of parsley and Gruyere.

Makes 5-6 quarts; serves 10-12.

I Love Hearing from You!

Please leave a comment. Include your blog URL and CommentLuv will automatically link back to your most recent blog post. And join me at LunaCafe on Facebook for daily adventures in the OtherWorldly Kitchen. Let’s get cooking! …Susan

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  1. says

    Susan – I love this version of pistou and definitely want to try it. (Although I’m kind of tired of basil at this point, having been “over pesto’d,” I’m attracted to this version of pistou.) But what really drew my attention were the kamut berries – I’ve never heard of them. I’ll have to look for them in my East Coast/midAtlantic stores. Are they native to the West Coast?
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