Disclaimer: I was compensated by Tuscan Fields to develop a recipe and write a post but the thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, my undying love for farro has existed for several years prior.
So, is it strange to be in love with an ancient grain?
Maybe not if you’re a dietitian. But, as a food lover, if the grain is delicious, has great texture and is versatile, it’s easy to love.
Enter farro. Farro is actually a very old variety of wheat, traced back to ancient Roman times. Also known as “emmer”, it has a pleasant chewy texture with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.
When my food blogger pal, Aviva @ The Six O’Clock Scramble introduced me to Suzanne, the rep for Tuscan Fields Farro, I knew we’d get along famously. (I was seriously giddy after Suzanne sent me some samples in the mail.) After cooking with it and learning more about the Tuscan Fields story (their farro grows on the pristine hills of southern Tuscany – sigh!), I knew I wanted to share details with our readers.
Thanks to my Italian heritage, I’ve cooked farro in the past; but I’ve found it a) hard to find and b) a tad expensive. Tuscan Fields Farro products are currently available in Mid-Atlantic area Whole Foods and several specialty and natural grocery stores in the Midwest at a reasonable price ($3.99 for a 9 ounce package.) Other things I like particularly about Tuscan Fields:
- Convenience: The small 9 ounce packages are perfect for a family of four and are simple to prepare.
- Unique blends: The three varieties – plain farro, farro with vegetables, and farro with mushrooms – make healthy cooking a snap.
- Nutrition: This farro is semi-pearled, which means bran has been scored, but not removed, for easier cooking but still provides 5 – 7 grams of fiber per serving. It also provides 7 grams of protein along with a lower glycemic index (so your blood sugar levels won’t rapidly rise and fall.)
- Organic: Tuscany is a certified non-GMO region and this farro is grown on the Fattoria Pieve a Salti (Pepper & Salt Farm) which is also an agriturismo – an Italian farmhouse that’s certified as a resort for vacationing (I couldn’t stop oohing and ahhing over the scenery.)
Farro can be used as you would cook and serve rice – in an entree, as a side dish, in soup/stew, in hot or cold salads, as a stuffing or even as a breakfast cereal.
This Chickpea & Vegetable Farro Soup is a stew-type dish since farro absorbs a lot of liquid. If you prefer a more brothy soup, you can add more water or broth while cooking.
Chickpea & Vegetable Farro Soup
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (9.10 ounce) package of Tuscan Fields Farro Alle Verdue (1 1/2 cups uncooked farro)
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water (add 1 more cup of water if you prefer a thinner soup)
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Salt & pepper
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 spring rosemary, minced
- Grated Pecorino, Parmesan Reggiano, Asiago or other aged cheese
- In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and carrot, cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add farro and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, add beans and cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt & pepper to taste and stir in lemon juice.
- While soup is cooking, make rosemary infused olive oil. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium low heat. Add minced rosemary and cook for 10 minutes. Strain.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Top with a drizzle of rosemary olive oil and grated cheese.
I served this soup as a stick-to-your ribs meal with bread and a green salad to my vegetarian sister who loved it. (And she lived in Italy for 3 years so she knows and adores farro, too.)
Other potential variations for this recipe:
- use black beans, corn, tomato and cilantro for a Tex Mex flavor
- add leftover chicken or shrimp
- mix in leafy greens (like spinach, kale or arugula) 10 -15 minutes before cooking time is up
- add chopped potatoes, cauliflower and curry for an Indian twist (with a dollop of yogurt when serving)