Vegewarian (vegetarian- aware recipes like these) offer you an alternative to meat-based food. Here’s one for this week which brings Morocco into the kitchen. Home cooks in Morocco make a variety of cereal-based soups and porridge from millet, barley and wheat (see our post about how important wild cereals are to our grain supply). Cracked-wheat soups are most often savory with spices, herbs, and sometimes meat, but this sweet soup, called Herbel, is an exception.
Like the rice pudding that Westerners are familiar with, this sturdy cereal dish requires two cooking times: once in water to tenderize the grains, and again in milk to make a sweet porridge. But wheat kernels, being a whole grain, are infinitely more nutritious and than white rice, giving you steady energy to last through the whole morning. And Herbel, made luxurious with orange-flower water and a touch of honey, is a delicious way to start the day – or wind up the evening with a comforting dinner.
The wheat grains must be pre-soaked, or rinsed and left to simmer over minimal heat overnight. Not traditional, but very practical for overnight cooking, is cooking the wheat a crock pot on low heat. Myself, I like to soak the grains early the previous evening, then let them cook at leisure for an hour in the morning.
Herbel, Milky Moroccan Wheat Soup
Yield: 6 servings
1 cup – 250 grams whole wheat kernels
6 cups – 1-1/2 liters water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups- 1 liter milk
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon orange flower water
Cinnamon, butter and honey for serving at table
Pick over the wheat if needed. Rinse until the water runs clear and free of dust. Drain. Put the wheat into a large bowl, cover generously with water, and leave it to soak 10 hours. Add more water if it looks like the grains have absorbed all and are getting dry.
Drain the soaked wheat. Put it in a pot with the 6 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Simmer for 40 minutes until tender. It’s alright if there’s still some water not absorbed.
Heat the milk separately and add to the wheat in the pot. Add the sugar; stir it in. Add the butter; stir. Cook on low heat until most of the milk is absorbed and everything is very soft and well combined – about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add orange flower water and stir it in. Serve warm, with additional butter, cinnamon and honey for individual servings.
You may cook the herbel ahead of time, but it will have thickened. Reheat over low heat, adding milk to thin it out.
More breakfast ideas on Green Prophet:
Photo of soup via Shutterstock.