Cabbage & Farro Soup


When you have been blogging as long as I have (over 16 years!) you accumulate a lot of recipes. In fact, I have over 1,300 recipes posted on Italian Food Forever, but unfortunately, great recipes like this one that were shared many years ago with not so pretty photos get lost in the crowd. I decided recently to go back through some of my older, favorite recipes and tweak them as needed, and then add some better photos.

This recipe is a favorite soup of mine that I make often when the temperature cools. It is a very hearty, filling soup that justs tastes like you are eating a bowl of garden goodness. I first created this soup while we were at our farmhouse in Umbria during a cool spring, and unfortunately, some of the ingredients I used there are not always readily available here in the States.  I therefore tweaked the recipe and made it more user-friendly. In my original recipe, I added canned cherry tomatoes which are not so easy to find here in North America, so I switched them out for whole, canned tomatoes. I also left out the canned beans in this version because I wanted a lighter soup for lunch, but I do recommend adding them if you are making this soup for dinner as a main course. I like to flavor my soups with some finely diced pancetta that I cook up with the onions, but if you want to keep this soup vegetarian, simply skip the addition of the pancetta and use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.

Soups like this one are packed with nutrition, and I love the fact that it contains cabbage which is one vegetable that we just do not eat often enough. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin B6, and is also a very good source of manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B1, folate, copper, choline, phosphorus, vitamin B2, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, pantothenic acid, protein and niacin. Add the other vegetables and some high fiber farro, and you can see why I call this soup a multivitamin in a bowl!

This soup is easy to adapt to your own personal taste. You can use kale, or Swiss chard in place of the cabbage, add your choice of beans and even switch out the farro for another grain or small pasta shape. If I am serving this soup for dinner, I often ladle it into the bowl over a thick slice of grilled, crusty Italian bread rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil. For lunch, I keep the soup simple and just serve it with one of my favorite garnishes. In the photos, I added a dollop of homemade basil pesto which really makes the flavors pop, as well as a drizzle of our very own olive oil and a sprinkle of cracked black pepper. A dollop of basil or sun-dried tomato pesto is also delicious, and you can never go wrong with some grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2018

Cabbage, Bean & Farro Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Peeled & Diced
  • 2 Carrots, Trimmed & Diced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Trimmed & Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Diced Pancetta (Optional – See Notes Above)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 7 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock (Plus Additional Water As Needed)
  • 1 (14 Ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes (See Notes Above)
  • 2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes (Optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 1 1/3 Cups Dried Farro
  • 1/2 Head of Savoy Cabbage, Sliced Thin & Chopped, About 4 Cups
  • 1 (14 Ounce) Can Borlotti Beans, Drained & Rinsed (Optional – See Notes Above)

To Serve:

  • Garnish of Choice (See Notes Above)

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat until warm, then add the onion, celery, carrot, and pancetta and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the pancetta is no longer pink, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, and cook another minute or two.
  3. Break up the whole tomatoes with your fingers, then add them to the pot.
  4. Add the stock, thyme, parsley, chili flakes, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and then add the farro and cabbage, and cook until the farro and cabbage are just tender to the bite, about 20 minutes.
  6. Add the canned beans if using, and a cup or more of water if the soup seems too thick.
  7. Cook an additional 5 to 6 minutes, then taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Remove the fresh thyme sprigs, and then serve very warm in individual bowls with your garnish of choice.