After a few weeks without internet (or a kitchen), I am so happy to post another favorite recipe. I just moved and am beyond excited! And sweetening the whole experience is my beautiful new kitchen! The first recipe I made when I moved in was Farro Minestrone Soup. After moving, we needed something comforting and nourishing to feed our aching selves. I have always loved to make minestrone. I replaced the pasta with farro a few years ago, once I heard that it was low in gluten and good for those with wheat sensitivities (please substitute the farro in this recipe with another grain if you have Celiac Disease).
While researching farro, I found that it is the original grain from which all others derive! Wow. It has fed the Mediterranean and Near Eastern populations for thousands of years. Farro should be soaked to optimize digestion and it lends a wonderful chewy, firm texture to this soup. Farro has its outer bran and germ layers intact, which are full of nutrients such as folate, vitamin E, potassium and fiber. I add a parmesan rind to this soup during cooking. It thickens it in a lovely way and imparts a rich, nutty texture. I keep leftover parmesan rinds in the freezer and simply pop them in soup when needed.
Soak farro in water for two hours. Drain farro and rinse.
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots and some salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant.
Add farro, tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, parmesan rind and stock/water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to a steady simmer. Cook for about an hour , stirring periodically. If the soup is too thick from the farro absorbing the liquid, add more stock or a little water. Add white beans and cook 15 minutes more. Stir in parsley and then cook another 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme and add sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with lots of parmesan, a sprinkle of parsley and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
I think this soup is much better the next day as the flavors continue to meld overnight. However, when storing the soup the farro will continue to absorb the liquid it's in. Be prepared to add some water or stock to thin it out when re-heating. Enjoy!