Tomato Bulgur Soup
There’s no faster, surer way to enrich soup than by stirring in a handful of grains; they absorb the surrounding flavors and release starch to make the broth thick and creamy. Bulgur is ideal because it cooks in a flash, but you can use whatever you’ve got, including already cooked grains (leftovers are perfect) or ground grains like cornmeal. Depending on which you choose, the cooking time may decrease or increase from a little to (rarely) a lot, and you might need to add more liquid.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and black pepper
½ cup white wine
3 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; include their juice)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
5 to 6 cups vegetable stock or water
¾ cup bulgur
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish, optional
1. Put the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften and turn golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the white wine and cook, stirring to loosen the bits of vegetable that have stuck to the bottom of the pan, for about 1 minute.
2. Add the tomatoes and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break up, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the stock and bulgur, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat so the mixture gently bubbles. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the bulgur is tender, about 10 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more stock or water. (You can make the soup up to this point and refrigerate for several days or freeze for months. Gently reheat before proceeding.) Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the parsley and Parmesan if you’re using them, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings