Freekeh Soup

Freekeh is an excellent source of fibers very important for the digestive system. It has been used in numerous recipes, traditional and “novel” ones. Freekeh chicken soup offers a number of benefits. It is a great source of proteins, fluids and minerals. It helps in boosting the immunity system and providing energy and nutrients to the body.

Freekeh soup

Region: Bednayel – Bekaa

Number of persons: 6 persons

Calories: 280 Calories/portion

Preparation Time: 90mns


1 cup of Freekeh

1 big onion, finely chopped

8-10 cups of chicken broth

1 tbsp. of vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation Steps:

  1. Under running water, rinse the Freekeh to clean it from dust and debris
  2. In a cooking pot, stir fry the onions in the vegetable oil until golden
  3. Add the Freekeh and stir well then add the salt and pepper
  4. Pour the chicken broth and leave on a low heat until it boils
  5. After boiling, leave the soup to simmer on a low heat for around 30-35 minutes until the Freekeh is well cooked
  6. Enjoy with a dash of lemon juice
Eat Local

Freekeh, the mega-grain

Freekeh is the grain that everybody has been talking about lately, and which is expected to take quinoa’s spot around the world, making some people call it “the new quinoa”.

Green wheat fields in the South of Lebanon
Green wheat fields in the South of Lebanon

What is freekeh and what makes it so special?

Freekeh is young wheat that is harvested approximately one month and a half before it matures, between April and May, while the wheat is still green and milky; whereas wheat is harvested towards the end of June in Lebanon. Freekeh was discovered in the Middle East around 2300 B.C and has been consumed as a staple food in this region for centuries especially in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt. It has recently gained popularity worldwide for its distinctive flavor and nutritional benefits, making it available today in some restaurants and supermarkets in several countries such as Australia, the US, and different European countries.

The word Freekeh comes from the Arabic verb “Faraka” meaning to rub, and refers to a step in freekeh production when the wheat grains are rubbed to remove their shell.

Harvesting freekeh in Ein Ebel, South of Lebanon ©Rana Tanissa
Harvesting freekeh in Ein Ebel, South of Lebanon ©Rana Tanissa

When harvested, freekeh is tied into piles and left to dry in the sun for 3-4 hours. The piles are then roasted over an open wood or charcoal fire, on the ground, for 10-15 minutes and then stored in the shade for a couple of days. Straw and chaff that were burned during this process are rubbed off, and finally the grain is left to dry for 45 days and is checked for remaining impurities and debris before being ready to be stored and sold. The final product is a firm chewy grain with a smoky flavor that is loaded with nutritional benefits.

Roasting freekeh the traditional way, on the ground ©Rana Tanissa
Roasting freekeh the traditional way, on the ground ©Rana Tanissa

[quote]Harvesting wheat when still young and green, makes this grain higher in proteins, minerals and vitamins than the typically processed wheat, and three times richer in fibers and protein than brown rice[/quote]

Besides its high content in protein and fibers, which increases the feel of satiety for a longer period, freekeh is also a source of iron, calcium and zinc.

In Lebanon, freekeh is produced in the Bekaa valley and the South, from Arsal to Ein Ebel. During the past few years, the Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) and its partners have been working with several farmer cooperatives in Lebanon to improve freekeh production by automating its production process in order to ensure a high-quality end product that meets the international food safety standards. The newly introduced “roasting machine” avoids contaminating freekeh with soil impurities or other contaminating agents that might jeopardize the safety of this food.

How to cook freekeh?

Freekeh can be cooked in different ways; it is basically used in many traditional Lebanese dishes with meat, chicken and vegetables and even in stuffing. To speed its cooking, freekeh is soaked in water overnight. Today, freekeh has been incorporated in different international salads, risotto and soups. Freekeh is also being included within fine and wedding buffets.

Freekeh with meat, served with nuts and almonds
Freekeh with meat, served with nuts and almonds

Famous Lebanese chefs are promoting this traditional grain around the world by twisting traditional recipes and even creating new dishes based on freekeh.

Freekeh salad by Chef Joe Barza
Freekeh salad by Chef Joe Barza

Why choose Freekeh over Quinoa:

Some of the reasons why we should as Lebanese, and people living in the Middle East, consume more freekeh than Quinoa are related to the facts that freekeh is

  1. Locally produced and hence helps sustain a diverse food system and biodiversity, while supporting local farmers
  2. Higher in fibers
  3. Higher in proteins
  4. Cheaper



Freekeh with mutton or veal

Frikeh with meat

Total servings: 6

Preparation time: 1.5 – 2 hrs


  • 500 gr of cracked freekeh
  • 250 gr of veal or mutton
  • 500 ml of water
  • 50 grams of mixed almons and pine nuts
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5 tsp of salt
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp of Kabseh spices
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil

Preparation Steps:

  1. Soak the  cracked freekeh in cold water for 1 hour then drain it well.
  2.  In a pressure cooker, add 2 to 3 tbsp of vegetable oil and stir-fry the meat chops until they cook on the outside, for about 5 min.
  3. Add  500 ml of water,  the chopped onion, the bay leaves, the cloves and 1/2 tsp of salt and pressure cook the meat for about 50 minutes or until done.
  4. Remove the bay leaves and the cloves and collect the meat broth for cooking the freekeh at a later stage.
  5. In another pot, add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and stir fry the freekeh over high fire until golden, for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add  the meat broth,  the Kabseh spices, and 1 tsp of salt.  Cover the pot and let simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until done.
  7. Stir-fry the almonds and pine nuts, drain from the oil and and set aside.
  8. Dish out the freekeh in a large flat plate, topping it with meat chops and nuts, and serve hot.

The freekeh can be accompanied by yogurt or salad on the side.