(Slightly Modified) Tuscan Farro Soup

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.

Mark Bittman's Tuscan Farro Soup
Clearly, I’m not a food photographer, but I promise this soup is delicious!

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Steps

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Enjoy!

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Our Story

Hey guys! I just started to write a post about our wedding and realized that I needed to back up and give those of you who don’t know us some context!

Tottenham Hotspurs Game_Nashville_July 2017

David and I actually met as infants—introduced by our parents, who had already been friends for many years. At the time, David’s mom and dad lived less than a mile away, and although they moved not long after David was born, they didn’t go far; to this day, our parents only live about a mile and half from each other. So, as you can imagine, our paths continued to cross as we grew up. Notable run-ins include the weekend David came to our lake house with a mutual friend and I played a harmless prank on him (…it’s not my fault he agreed to eat those dog treats…) and the dates we went on our senior year of high school. With our focus squarely set on college, the timing wasn’t quite right, but David certainly left an impression. It’s not every day an 18-year-old boy walks confidently up to his date’s front door, jokes with her dad about missing curfew, and then whisks her away for burritos in a vintage Mercedes, lovingly named Bocephus.

Five years later, in 2013, David’s dad and my mom (who is a CPA), realized during their annual tax appointment that we had both ended up back in Atlanta after college. The details get a little fuzzy here, but, according to David, he called his dad that afternoon and, to his surprise, my mom picked up and (strongly) encouraged him to take me on a date. Her version is much more casual, but one way or another, David got my number and did take me on a date—and a classic Atlanta date at that. We went to a Braves game, where we spent seven of the nine innings sipping beers in the parking lot, getting to know each other, and laughing a lot (a theme for us). Over the next couple of weeks, we hung out a few more times, and I think we both sensed, even that early on, that our friendship had the potential to become something more. It was just always really fun and easy to be around each other. So much so that when I went to the beach with my family that summer, I found myself missing him—and I guess he felt the same way, because the night I got back he asked me to be his girlfriend. Apparently, distance really does make the heart grow fonder!

Engagement Photo_Brevard, North Carolina_2017

The past four years have been full of adventures. Six months after we started dating I adopted a wild (but adorable) dog, name Murphy, and three months after that David moved to Birmingham for work. We were long distance for about a year before I decided to pack up my apartment and head to Alabama to be closer to him. That first year and a half together in Birmingham was filled with ups and downs as our relationship got more serious and we learned to rely on each other. As hard as it was at times, looking back I realize how crucial that period was because it taught us so much about each other and show us that we can make it through anything. So when David proposed in April 2017, almost exactly two years after I had moved to Birmingham, it felt like the perfect next step.

In December, we’ll start our next big adventure, and we could not be more excited. We’ve continued to grow and learn from this period of engagement and the wedding planning process, and I look forward to sharing some of those insights with you. I think we’ve handled a lot of the planning really well, but we’ve also made some key mistakes, and I’d love for y’all to be able to learn from those experiences (and avoid them, if possible). If there’s anything, in particular, you want to hear more about (our relationship, our wedding, etc.) don’t hesitate to let me know! I’m an open book.

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Why I Abandoned My Last Blog and Started a New One

 

You had another blog? 

Not long after I moved to Birmingham, I started a blog called Highland Roots. Having spent the better part of 24 years living in Atlanta, I was thinking a lot about how to define home. Is it where I’m from? Where I live? The people I live with and near? Maybe it’s some combination of those things…What I did know was that, while Atlanta is a big part of who I am and it will always be my home-base, in order to be happy I needed to create a home in here too. So Highland Roots was born out of that desire to connect with Birmingham. It was supposed to be a way to push my boundaries; to push myself to explore Birmingham and share my experiences with others. But, if we’re being honest about it, it was a total bust.

I completely underestimated how busy that first couple of years here would be. Between starting a new job, nurturing my relationship in a new city, trying to make friends, and moving several times (three times in two years to be exact…), I just didn’t have enough time to create consistent and valuable content. Highland Roots became a burden instead of an inspiration. Looking back, I just had no idea it would take two years to settle into Birmingham, but for me it did, and I’m actually really glad that I allowed myself to put the blog on the back burner and focus instead on my needs, my relationship, and building a community here.

So why now? And why does this blog have a completely different name? 

The thing is, I’ve always been drawn to blogging, so when (just a few months ago) I finally started to feel at home here, I immediately began thinking about reviving Highland Roots. But it didn’t quite feel like the right direction. When I created it, Highland Roots was an experiment in defining home and showing people how much Alabama has to offer, even if my roots were still in Georgia. Today, I still want to do that, but I also want to do more. I want to share stories, experiences, and ideas for creating a full and beautiful life, no matter where you live or what stage of life you’re in. And so the name Highland Roots just doesn’t make sense anymore. This space is no longer just about what it means to call the South home. It’s about being resourceful, resilient, creative, and adventurous. And that’s where the name Grit + Grace came from.

Having grown up in Georgia, gone to college in South Carolina, and lived in Alabama for almost three years, being Southern has had a tremendous impact on the way I approach my life. And I associate being gracefully, but also having the grit and perseverance to tackle any obstacle, with being my upbringing. But I think a lot of people could say that, no matter where they’re from. So, through this space, I hope to share my own experiences and perspective in a way that will resonate with others.

I’m not sure exactly what this space will be yet. I imagine, knowing myself, that it will be a hodge podge of thoughts and stories. I guess that’s what makes it a lifestyle blog, instead of a food blog or a style blog or something more specific. It’s a lifestyle blog because I don’t quite have it figured out (and don’t want to box myself in too soon). Regardless, I hope you like it and take some something away from it. And if you think it sucks, I hope you’ll tell me. Just give me a few weeks to get in rhythm first, okay?

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post. I promise they won’t always be like this. You can look forward to many more pictures, links, videos, etc. in the future!

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