Things this soup will not do: Win any beauty contests.
Things this soup will do: Warm you to your core on a cold day. Nourish you. Fill your belly. Leave you with an abiding sense of contentment. Possibly wash and fold your clothes.
This is a tradeoff I can live with.
I haven’t been completely sold on the farro revolution. I like the flavor, but I find that the chewy texture becomes bothersome after a while when served as a basic grain side dish or in a risotto-style presentation.
In soup it is a different story.
It doesn’t fall apart in the broth. It makes the soup feel substantial, bordering on a stew that can be a one-pot meal.
The farro I use is grown in Eastern Washington by a family farmer, Lena Lentz Hardt, who was able to jump off the treadmill of industrial crop pricing for commodity wheat by growing this very special, organic grain. You can find this wonderful grain at ChefShop.com, online or at their Elliott Ave. location in Seattle.
You can vary this soup by switching in a different bean for the chickpeas (cannellini would be very Italian), or a different green for the mustard greens. Any kind of kale would be very appropriate. I probably wouldn’t use spinach, as the more delicate texture might not hold up to the farro.
Farro and Chickpea Soup
Vegetarian, vegan, and kosher
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 white onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 bunch mustard greens, stems removed and cut into 1″ ribbons
1 cup uncooked farro
1 cup fully cooked chickpeas
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh ground black pepper
Flaky sea salt
In a large pot with a li, or a pressure cooker, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, celery, garlic, crushed red pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the mustard greens and cook for a couple of minutes until they have begun to soften. Add the farro and 4 cups water. Cover and simmer until the farro is tender but still a bit chewy, about 50 minutes (or if using a pressure cooker, 32 minutes at high pressure followed by a quick pressure release.)
Remove the lid and add the chickpeas and lemon juice. Stir and simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld, then taste and adjust seasoning.
To serve, divide among bowls, garnish with more good olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, parsley and sea salt.
Preparation time: 1 hour total (15 minutes active)