Farro Soup from Lucca
This classic Tuscan farro and bean soup from Lucca, comfort food. It is chock full of fresh vegetables, and Tuscan herbs. Pureeing some of the beans gives it a thick and creamy texture. It is topped with a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
Farro is an ancient grain, it has a slightly nutty taste and firm texture when cooked to al dente. Look for the semipearled farro if it is the whole grain it takes hours to cook.
I like using a mezzaluna to cut all the vegetables and herbs makes the chopping go faster.You can use canned borlotti beans, I prefer to cook my beans for the best flavor, and use the water from the beans as part of the water for the soup. Borlotti beans are cranberry beans, though you can use any bean which has a soft creamy center.
To make a vegetarian version replace the pancetta with 2 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind cut into ¼ inch cubes, add them to the soup when you add the water. They add a rich umami flavor and a nice texture to the soup.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for serving
1 onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig of rosemary, minced
6 fresh sage leaves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 ounces pancetta, cubed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups farro, semi-pearled/semiperlato
2 1/4 cups cooked borlotti beans
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart water
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. In a 9-inch soup or saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, carrot, celery, rosemary, sage, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bay leaf. Cook stirring occasionally, until soft and light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat has melted. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few seconds stirring regularly.
2. Puree 1/2 of the beans using an immersion blender or food processor. Add the farro, whole and pureed beans, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the water bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and let the soup simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add more water when necessary to keep the soup from becoming too dry. When the farro is al dente, the soup is finished cooking. Remove the bay leaf and taste to correct the seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve in warmed soup bowls drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano and crusty bread.
*You can use canned beans in place of the cooked beans if you do add them after the farro has cooked for 20 minutes. To cook dry beans rinse the beans then place 1 cup barlotti beans in a medium pot cover with water by 1 inch add bay leaf, 1/8 teaspoon Mixteca salt(Mexican salt from Rancho Gordo you can buy online). Cook for about 1 hour or until tender, or cook for 4 minutes in the Instant Pot.
Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie