Tuscan vegetable and farro soup

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

Originating from the Tuscan town of Lucca, this soup is a wonderful sight on the table – its colours and smells are so rich and inviting! It’s the ideal soup to serve for a weekend lunch as it’s filling and needs only some crusty bread. The soup uses Italian farro, which is tricky to define as it can embrace a variety of ancient grains, including emmer wheat and spelt. If you want to use wholegrain farro for this you can, but you will need to cook it for nearer to one hour rather than half an hour, so some extra stock will be needed. You can also substitute dried soaked borlotti beans for the tinned version used here, especially if you’re doing a slower-cooked version as they will take longer to cook. If you haven’t got fresh stock, I like to use slightly watered-down tinned beef consommé for this sort of thing, as I think it has way more flavour than cubed stock. If you have some fresh pesto to hand, that is also a lovely addition – just top each bowl with a spoonful before serving.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
1 onion chopped
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
100g cubed pancetta, or chopped streaky bacon
2 garlic cloves, chopped 75g semi-pearled or pearled farro
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
700ml beef stock 2 sprigs of thyme 1 bay leaf a pinch or two of sugar
1 x 400g tin borlotti beans, drained
To serve: olive oil, for drizzling plenty of chopped basil freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:
1. In a large saucepan, gently fry the onion, celery and carrot in the oil for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic and farro grains, stir for a minute or so, then add the chopped tomatoes, boiling hot stock, thyme, bay and sugar.
4. Season, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Add the drained and rinsed beans and cook for a further 10 minutes.
6. Taste for seasoning, adding extra if needed, then serve each bowl with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil and grated Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.

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