When I first came across this recipe, to be honest, I thought “Spelt?  What the heck is that?  I’m not interested because I don’t know what it  is.”  Turns out that spelt is really just toasted wheat berries.  That can’t possibly be bad, even though it’s hard for me to picture stalks of wheat swaying in the Nebraska breeze and laden with “berries.”  I stole the recipe from an LA chef–Odette Fada–and I trust her (otherwise I wouldn’t have stolen it).  It’s a very simple and satisfying soup.  As much as I love grits and oatmeal, spelt is a nice change of pace.  I don’t think I’d recommend it for breakfast but you never know.  When I was a kid, my favorite breakfast was a ham and cheese sandwich, fried okra, a handful of cookies, and some potato chips.  If I can have that for breakfast, I guess anybody can have spelt.  I’m sure it’s good for you too.  It’s hard to think of a soup that isn’t good for you, but I suppose that isn’t the point.

I don’t really know what the point is, other than me sharing some bad-ass recipes.

Unlike most of the recipes that I share with you here, this one yields a sensible, home-style amount:  enough to feed about six people, but that’s pretty much it.

Spelt soup

5 Tbsp. olive oil

10 oz. mirepoix (please tell me that you have a grip on mirepoix by now)

1 shallot, minced

1 smallish leek, chopped up fne

2 cloves of garlic, minced well

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp. of dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried thyme

4 oz. of spelt (again, they are whole, toasted wheat berries)

1 1/2 qt. veg stock

s & p, of course

2 super-thin slices of prosciutto

10 spinach leaves

I guess you could leave out the prosciutto and make it vegan, but where’s the fun in that?

I’m presenting the recipe as it was given to me (well, to be honest, stolen by me), but I’m a little taken aback and displeased by the idea of “dried rosemary.”  Where I’m from, rosemary is everywhere.  It grows to sizes that rival Pontiacs.  Like mint, it’s basically a weed, and is generally free for the taking. If you have to purchase dried rosemary–well, okay.  I’d rather you didn’t, but I understand.  If you are lucky enough to have access to fresh rosemary, make it 1 1/2 tsp. for this recipe.  Chopping it up super-fine is a big pain, as the needles tend to skitter all over the place every time your knife gets near them, but it’s another situation where perserverance and patience pay off.  Your call, though.

Anyway. sweat the mirepoix, shallots, garlic, herbs, and leek in about three tablespoons of oil for five minutes or so.  As always, remember that there’s a big difference between “caramelized” and “burned.”

Add the spelt and the stock and let it all simmer for 45 minutes or an hour (or somewhere in between).  Pluck out the bay leaves and then purée it all.  You can thin it with more stock if you feel like you have to.  Taste it, and add however much s & p you think is appropriate.

Cut the prosciutto up into little match-stick sized strips (julienne).  Stack the spinach leaves on top of each other, roll them up like a cigar, and then, starting at one of the thin ends, slice them into little ribbons (chiffonade). 

Serve up the soup in hot bowls, and garnish each one with some prosciutto, spinach en chiffonade, and a wee dribble of the remaining olive oil.  One last step:  Kick back and relish in all of your guests swooning over the quality of your soup.  There probably won’t be any left for you, but that’s part of a good host’s life.  You have to put other people first.

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