Monday, April 2, 2012

Farro and Mushroom Soup

I'm always a sucker for something new. Farro isn't new... it's been around forever, and was referred to in texts of the ancient Romans, but it's new to me. For something that's been around so long, finding farro isn't easy. I finally located some at Whole Foods, then I saw it the very next week at my local Italian specialty food market. There's a lot of confusion about farro - what it is and what it isn't. Some people say farro is the same as spelt, and others say it's an ancestor of wheat. To confuse matters, the word for farro in Italian is ... you've got it, "spelt". I lean toward considering farro to be wheat's ancestor, as it's also called emmer wheat in Europe. This recipe is inspired by Annie Sommerville, the author of Everyday Greens, and the chef at one of my favorite restaurants, Greens, in San Francisco.


1 cup cooked farro (1/2 cup uncooked)
2 Tbs. dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup very hot water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbs. fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
several curls of Parmigiana or Pecorino Romano cheese

START IN THE MORNING OR THE NIGHT BEFORE! Cover 1/2 cup farro with warm water, then let sit for 8 - 12 hours. Either start the cooking process after 8 to 12 hours, or drain and refrigerate the soaked farro until ready to make the soup. They'll keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms, if using, in 1/2 cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Start the rest of the soup while the dried mushrooms are soaking. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot. Add the chopped onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms begin to give up their liquid. Add the white wine, along with the thyme and parsley, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the stock along with the soaked  porcini mushrooms and the farro. Lower the heat so that the soup is at a simmer, then cook until the farro is al dente and the vegetables are tender, about 15 more minutes. Al dente means that the outside is tender, but the inside still has some texture or "bite" to it. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each bowl with several curls of cheese.

Serves 4
Stealthy Cooking Tip: Farro has some excellent qualities. In the field, farro has a sturdier hull than modern wheat, which means it's more resilient to insects, and therefore growers have less need to use chemicals or pesticides. It also has a great nutritional portrait, with about twice the protein and fiber as regular wheat. That's one of the reasons many are trying farro, and why it's being grown more and more in the US.


David Crichton said...

I love this dish Marie, I had a recipe at home using Farro but couldn't get hold of it so I used Bulghar wheat instead.

I'll keep looking. Plus those Kumquats, the last thing I did with them was make a chutney for a spiced duck breast.


Unknown said...

Great tips on farro! I wonder what other foods it compares to? Nevertheless, I'll definitely have to keep an eye out in the grocery store for it!

Kelly | Eat Yourself Skinny said...

What a great recipe, this looks delicious! Fabulous blog you have, so glad to be your newest follower! xoxo

Dionne Baldwin said...

I like trying new things too! If nothing else, it assures me that I like what I've discovered. It sounds like this farro is worth trying! Thanks for this!

by Maire Gilbert said...

Thanks! Farro is definitely on my "have it again" list!

Kim - Liv Life said...

I'm somewhat of a newcomer to farro... but what I've tried I liked. This one is a must try!