This soup is, hands-down, my favorite way to cheer up a house full of shivering snifflers. The pungent garlic and charred lemons are the perfect antidote to winter blues and the hearty Sonora wheat berries (which we pick up from the Tehachapi Grain Project at the Weiser Family Farms booth at our Wednesday farmers market) make this a hearty enough to serve as a main dish. Be sure to cook the spinach only just before serving!
1Whole chickenabout 3-4 lbs
2cupCooked wheat berries or brown rice
6clovesGarlicpeeled but whole
10turns of fresh black pepper
1White or yellow onioncut into thin slices
2 to 3Carrotscut into medallions
1bunch Fresh oregano
4bunches Spinach leaveswe love the heartiness of Bloomsdale spinach
Preheat your oven to 375F. Toss the cooked grains with 1 tsp salt, a little fresh pepper, the garlic cloves and half of the olive oil.
Look inside your chicken and make sure the giblets have been removed. Stuff the bird with the seasoned grains.
Coat the chicken with the remaining olive oil, then nest it inside a Dutch oven or medium roasting pan. Arrange the lemon wedges around the chicken. Cover the pot and bake for 50-60 minutes.
Check the chicken for doneness (165F if you have a thermometer). Once cooked through, remove the pot carefully from the oven. Remove the chicken and the lemon from the pot and place the pot on the stove.
Add the onions to the pot over medium heat and toss onions until they are translucent. Fill the pot with your stock. Add your carrots and potatoes, followed by the oregano, and cook these until they are soft. While the vegetables are cooking, scoop the grains out of the chicken and shred the meat off the bones.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add in the shredded chicken and grains. Taste and adjust the amount of salt and pepper.
Just before serving, add the spinach leaves into the soup and cook for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze a couple of the lemons over the soup, reserving the rest for garnish.