March 19th, 2012
I appropraitely made this soup to warm our bones just a couple of weeks ago. Now it’s nearly 70 degrees. I have no idea what kind of weather the next couple of weeks will bring, but I know that I’ll be making this soup. Thankfully, with its thin, flavorful broth and hearty chunks of seasonal veggies, it’s just as fitting in winter as it is in spring. Just change the vegetables.
My recipe is based on Mark Bittman’s Luccan Farro Soup, a sort of minestrone from Lucca in Tuscany. I swap chickpeas for his white beans—just because I prefer chickpeas—and add extra vegetables. My winter version includes kale and butternut squash (though any dark leafy green and winter squash will do). I also like to top this soup with crunchy brown butter breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of pecorino.
Good stuff. Hearty, too. In fact, packed with beans, veggies and grains, the only thing this soup needs is a slice of crusty bread and some salad. Marinated olives and hunks of cheese wouldn’t hurt either. And, with that, dinner is done. Winter or spring… and, really, summer or fall.
Kale, Squash & Farro Soup with Chick Peas
adapted from Mark Bittman
(can be adapted for kids 6+ mos)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to finish
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 of a butternut squash, peels and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small bunch of kale, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
1 cup farro (you can substitute spelt or barley)
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; do not drain)
6 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water, more as necessary
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup breadcrumbs
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated Pecorino
1. Put oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat; a minute later add onion, celery, carrots and squash. Cook until vegetables are glossy and onion is softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add kale, garlic, a large pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir to coat kale and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until kale begins to wilt. Add farro, beans, tomatoes and stock, and stir.
2. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until farro is tender, at least an hour, adding stock or water as necessary if mixture becomes too thick.
3. In the meantime, melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, about 7 minutes. (Every stove is different and these will toast pretty quickly, so it’s more important to keep a watchful eye than to watch the clock.) Remove from heat and toss crumbs with zest. Set aside.
4. Once the farro is tender and all the vegetables cooked through, stir in parsley and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve topped with toasted breadcrumbs, Pecorino and a final drizzle of good olive oil.
*Note: This soup is packed full of healthy ingredients for baby. If your child is not yet managing chunks, puree or pulse into an age appropriate texture.