I’m always looking for quick and healthy recipes to add to our weeknight repertoire, and one great source of ideas that I found recently is the New York Times’ Cooking newsletter. I usually get three emails a week: two that are more general (i.e. “What to Cook This Week” and “What to Cook This Weekend”) and one that’s more specific, like “Our 21 Most Popular Thanksgiving Pies,” if there’s a special occasion coming up. Each email contains a variety of recipes, some that are complex and some that are simple. Admittedly, I normally scan for the simple ones, given that our weeknights are usually pretty packed, and this week we found a keeper: Tuscan farro soup.
This recipe caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, it calls for pretty kickass ingredients that I could only imagine would be amazing when combined. Second, the creator of this Tuscan soup is my favorite food writer, Mark Bittman. (That first link will take you to one of my absolute favorite books, which had a big impact of how I approach food, and this one is to his cookbook which everyone should have a copy of.) Honestly, when I saw the title of this recipe (I love farro) + his name alongside it, I had a feeling it was going to be a good one–and I was right. Packed with a mix of fresh and canned veggies, my favorite grain, and some hearty beans for texture and protein, this soup is nutrient-rich and filling.
The original recipe, while still simple, does call for some more time-intensive steps like soaking dried beans. David and I made a few modifications to reduce the cooking time and thought it turned out just as well. We used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro and canned white beans, rather than dried. We also added Trader Joe’s garlic chicken sausage and fresh kale, instead of the celery that was called for.
Topped with lots of fresh parmesan cheese, this soup was perfect for a chilly fall night and we were excited to have a couple of servings left over that we froze for another busy week (or snow day!) this winter.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped (**We substituted kale.**)
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup farro, spelt or barley
- 1 cup dried white beans, soaked for several hours or overnight (**We used canned beans.**)
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; do not drain)
- 6 cups stock or water, more as necessary
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, optional
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- Put oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat; a minute later add onion, celery, carrots, a large pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook until vegetables are glossy and onion is softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, and stir; add farro, beans, tomatoes and stock, and stir.
- Bring to a boil, then adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until farro and beans are tender, at least an hour, adding stock or water as necessary if mixture becomes too thick. Stir in parsley and basil (if using), then cook another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve with lots of Parmesan.