When I am cold, the first thing I crave is a nice bowl of hot soup, and since we arrived back in Umbria last week, I have been feeling cold constantly. Apparently spring has yet to arrive inside our stone farmhouse since the temperatures have been routinely warmer outside than inside our house! When making a pot of soup, I cannot help myself from adding all the fresh, seasonal vegetables I can get my hands on and this version of faro soup is no different. Spring in Umbria brings fresh tiny peas and plump fava beans which both are wonderful in mixed vegetable soups. Farro is a traditional grain of Umbria, used in salads, soups, or cooked in the manner of risotto. If you cannot find farro in your area, spelt, wheat berries, or even barley will work just fine. Adding the grain along with the vegetables in this soup makes it heartier, and increases the nutritional value too!
You can play around with this soup however you want to make it your own. If you cannot find fresh fava beans, feel free to substitute another fresh vegetable. The only key is to keep the vegetables cut to around the same size which looks better overall and is easier to eat. I decided to keep this soup vegetarian, but you could also add diced pancetta or bacon, or a nice leftover prosciutto rind. Like most of my soups, I think of this one as a multivitamin in a bowl so add as many fresh vegetables as you wish . Exact measurements are really not required when making a soup like this one, simply add all your vegetables into the pot including the chopped tomatoes and faro, and then cover by a couple of inches with broth or water. Once the soup is slowly simmered, by the time the faro and vegetables have cooked, much of the liquid has been absorbed. To serve this soup, we like to drizzle it with a little of our own personal olive oil we harvested last year and a sprinkling of grated Pecorino cheese. A dollop of pesto would also be delicious, and you can substitute Parmesan cheese with the Pecorino if you prefer. Also, my husband likes to place a slice of grilled crusty bread in the bottom of his bowl before I ladle the soup on top which I often will do if I am serving the soup as our main course entree.
Deborah Mele 2011
Zuppa di Farro Primavera
Farro is an ancient grain that is making a comeback. You can substitute barely in place of farro if you prefer.
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, Diced
- 3 Carrots, Tops Trimmed & Diced
- 3 Stalks Celery, Diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
- 1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Peas
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Fava Beans, Removed From Pods & Peeled
- 1 1/2 Cups Farro
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
- Vegetable Broth or Water
- Grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a heavy stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, peas, fava beans, farro, oregano, parsley, and basil.
- Add enough water or broth to cover by about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.
- Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables and faro are tender adding additional water or broth if needed.