Wheat Berries With Winter Squash and Chickpeas

Use wheat berries or spelt for this hearty, nutrient-dense winter dish. The squash will fall apart as it simmers with the wheat berries, adding a sweet flavor to the mildly spicy broth. 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)

1 cup wheat berries

2 tablespoons tomato paste

5 cups water

Salt to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or mint

1 pound winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut in large dice

1 can chickpeas, drained

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic, ground allspice and cayenne. Stir together for about one minute, then add the wheat berries, tomato paste and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and add salt to taste. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons each of the parsley and dill or mint, and stir in the winter squash and chickpeas. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour until the beans and wheat berries are tender and the squash is beginning to fall apart.

2. Uncover the pot, and turn the heat to high so that the liquid returns to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat, and stir in the remaining herbs. Taste and adjust salt. Serve hot or warm in wide soup bowls.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: You can make this a few days ahead through Step 1. Reheat and reduce liquid (which will already be thicker if you’ve made it ahead) on the day you are serving.

Nutritional information per serving: 264 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 44 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams dietary fiber; 211 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 9 grams protein