Clash of the Seasons

A year ago, we met Chef Brad Briske at Edible Monterey Bay's 1st Anniversary Dinner at Live Earth Farm. Many of you know the story... Brad had a choice to cook two dinners that night but chose the Edible Dinner because of the participation of youth programs including  Food What?!Lightfoot IndustriesPie Ranch and the Santa Cruz Regional Occupational Program.  None of us knew at that point what it would mean for all of us to meet that night, but it has been an amazing year for us to have the privilege of sharing Brad's food with our local community as well as visitors from around the world. I just found his recipe for a fantastic soup proudly named Clash of the Seasons from the dinner in an old email and would like to share it with his new fans that have met him through La Balena. Make it while you still can using fresh, local ingredients!

A version of the soup is currently being served at the restaurant.

Photography by Camilla Mann from her blog With a Pen and a Lens   

Photography by Camilla Mann from her blog With a Pen and a Lens


Recipe of the week (from Edible Monterey Bay, 2012)


Tomato and Pumpkin Soup in brodo

(brodo is a fancy word for broth I often use at restaurants)

Courtesy Chef Brad Briske

This delicious soup was one of the highlights of Edible Monterey Bay’s 1st anniversary farm-to-table dinner earlier this month. Astonished diners begged for the recipe. Thanks Chef Brad for sharing!

This is a special soup for me. As a local and seasonal chef there are just a few weeks each year that tomatoes and pumpkins show up at the farmers’ markets on the same day. It’s usually now, in October. It’s still sunny, the weather is getting colder, maybe we’ve even had our first fall rain and technically speaking the dry farms aren’t dry farms any more, but the days are hot and the nights are cold. It’s a time when soups move to stews. To me it’s a “clash of the seasons” and this is how I share the transition with family, friends and patrons.  

I’m writing this recipe in the style of one of my culinary icons, Fergus Henderson. In his books he just gives ingredients or simple directions. This soup has ALOT of steps. I’m not going to try to explain them, or give quantities and cooking times.  I’ll just tell you what goes in it—a basic guideline. After all cooking is adjusting, improvising and just doing what feels right. There are many different ways to go about it, feel free to make changes as necessary and trust your instincts!

What You’ll Need:

Wheat Berries

Shelling Beans

A Winter Pumpkin or two

Ripe Early Girl Dry Farm Tomatoes

Onions, Carrots, Celery, Garlic

Olive Oil, Salt, Brown Sugar and Black Pepper

Farm Fresh Chicken

Cherry tomatoes


Clean Water

The Day Before:

Wash and soak the wheat berries in cold water overnight. If you forget to do this, you can rinse the wheat berries three times in cold water (like rice) and soak until ready to introduce into the cooking process of the soup.

Roast your tomatoes with olive oil in a hot oven. When cool, crush the roasted tomatoes with your hands, if you don’t mind seeds and skins, or push them through strainer to remove seeds and skins if you just want a very clean tomato flavor.

Roast your pumpkins. Split. Rub with olive oil and a little brown sugar, place in medium oven. When finished, remove skins, save seeds. When cool, same as above, crush pulp with your hands or blend to create a very smooth, but thick roasted pumpkin purée.

*Note from chef: If you decide to go for the clean approach, like I do at the restaurant. I save the skins from the roasted pumpkins and the passed tomatoes and use them in the stock, which will ultimately be the base of the soup. At the restaurant I always make stocks with lots of carrots and celery. I often skip the diced carrots and celery in the actual soup and incorporate those flavors in the stock part of the soup. At home I usually add them directly into the soup. The choice is yours. It really depends on what you’re serving with the rest of the meal or maybe the soup is the meal.

Shell and cook your shelling beans in water with a cured or smoked pig bone, a cloved onion & sage.

Roast your chicken. I always brine poultry. You should brine your chicken the night before. Fogline Farm sells whole and half brined chickens at local farmers markets. Pick off all the meat. Reserve for the soup.  Make a stock with the roasted carcass. See * above for stock ideas

Now you’re ready to cook the soup:

Sauté the onions

add the carrots (see*)

add the celery (see*)

strain and add the wheat berries

toast the wheat berries until they start to smell nutty

add the sliced garlic and a little more olive oil

add the roasted tomatoes, pumpkin puree & stock

cook until the wheat berries are just al dente (almost all the way cooked)

add the cooked shelling beans and a little of their juices

add the shredded, roasted chicken

cook together another few minutes to marry

Garnish with fried pumpkin seeds, halved cherry tomatoes marinated in golden balsamic and crisped prosciutto  

A few hints:

Wheat berries expand a lot. You don’t need a whole lot. A little will go a long way.

Tomato often inhibits the cooking process of beans (I think the acidity). I always cook beans separately then add them in the last twenty minutes of cooking in a tomato-based soup.