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Roast Chicken Soup with Wheat Berries, Parsnips, and Kale

(recipe, Mindy Fox)

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The chewy bite of hearty wheat berries is nice in soups. The grain is easy to cook and soaks up the flavor of a good — especially homemade — chicken broth. Try mustard greens or turnip tops in place of the kale, if you like. When you want a more complex dish and a little richness and protein, top this soup with a poached egg.


  1. 8 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  2. ¾ cup wheat berries or spelt
  3. ¾ lb. parsnips (about 2 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, core cut out if woody
  4. ½ lb. kale
  5. 1 cup medium shreds of roast chicken
  6. Flaky coarse sea salt
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. ¼ lemon, cut in half
  9. Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling


  1. Combine the broth and wheat berries in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the wheat berries are tender and chewy, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the parsnips into ⅓-inch cubes. Cut the center ribs from the kale and discard. Cut the leaves crosswise into 1-inch slices.
  3. When the wheat berries are tender, stir in the parsnips, kale, and chicken, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper (if you are using unsalted homemade broth, you may need to season with salt generously).
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls, squeeze a little lemon juice over the top of each serving, and drizzle with oil.


Cooking healthy grains does not have to slow you down. Getting food to the table quickly is often more about kitchen organization than anything else. Wheat berries require about 1 hour cooking time. Set up your simmering broth and grains first. While the grains are cooking, prepare the parsnips and kale. By the time you set the table and tidy up the kitchen, the soup will be ready for its quick and final steps. You can also cook the wheat berries in the broth 1 to 2 days ahead, and then finish preparing the soup in about 15 minutes, just before serving.