Borlotti bean and farro soup

Apparently farro makes you happy.

I think it may be true, Prozac be gone you old fool, give me farro my good man and plenty of it, and pint of your finest ale.

It also contains more protein than lentils, a hefty dose of fibre and complex carbohydrates, it’s good for your hair and did I mention the fact it makes you happy.

soup-at-table1

I am not going to apologise for the photo – the soup is cosi, brown lumpy highly textured and RUSTIC – or the fact this soup is rather like this because I am trying ever so hard not to keep apologising for myself, a bad habit which slips from my lips almost compulsively. I am the fool who splutters ‘Mi scusi’ to the person who has just poked ME in the eye with their over-sized umbrella or mumbles sorry to the idiot who just crushed my toes with their big winter boots. I am the red faced customer stuttering mi dispiace mi dispiace to the stroppy shop assistant who curls her lip in disgust and looks most put out at being asked to go to the stockroom -  which I assume is part of her job – to find my size because everything on display is for teeny tiny people. I apologise incessantly, I don’t know why, I often don’t mean it at all, which makes me very insincere I suppose.

The leaf has been turned, my page is clean, after all as P G Wodehouse once said ‘It is a good rule in life to never apologise. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take advantage of them

So no apologies then…

This is another of those thick, hearty, honest, soup stews the Italians excel at. Nothing fancy, nothing clever, just a bowl of deeply flavoured, simple and nourishing food. The combination of borlotti, some pureed and some left whole and farro is just wonderful, a smooth and creamy base studded with the soft, earthiness of whole beans coupled with a the nutty, fortifying bite of the farro.

I having been making this soup almost as compulsively as I apologise recently, it is rather fitting for the meteorological and economic climate we are all enduring, as my friend Harriet would say, it is austerity cooking of – I should add - the very nicest kind.

It’s all very straightforward once the overnight soaking and then the precooking of the beans is over and done with. Of course if you can get your hands on some fresh borlotti, lucky you, if like me you are quietly mourning their absence dried ones will have to suffice (tinned coming in at #3 in bean options.) Oh, and depending on the type of farro you are using, that may need an over night soak too, mine didn’t but I don’t suppose it would have been to much bother alongside the beans.

veg-and-farro

So you have soaked and cooked your beans (may I suggest flinging a bay leaf or two and some whole cloves of garlic in the pan while they simmer away) and set them aside reserving the precious cooking water. First up a soffrito, warm your olive oil and then add the onion, soften until translucent and floppy, throw in the carrot and celery and let it all gently sizzle away but not colour for about 10 minutes. Now add the garlic, stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Add about 3/4 of the cooked beans and the tomato paste and a couple of tablespoons of the water you cooked the beans in. Cover the pan and let everything bubble away over a gentle flame for about 20minutes.

farro-in-pan1

Now you have really made the soup, a very thick one at that. Pass everything through your mouli if you want a thicker texture or wizz it all up with a stick blender if you desire something very smooth. Now put everything back in the pan along with the farro and the rest of the bean water and let it simmer away over a gentle flame for about 25 minutes (attentive stirring is necessary to avoid the clump of farro stuck to the bottom of your pan) at which point the farro will be soft, swollen and full of flavour

To serve you add the rest of the reserved whole beans, salt and freshly ground black pepper and good dribble of the nicest extra virgin olive oil you care to afford and some very finely chopped rosemary. Eat and be happy.

borlotti-and-farro-soup1

Borlotti bean and farro soup

Adapted from Giorgio locatelli’s brilliant book Made in Italy.

  • 160g farro/spelt (soaked over night if necessary)
  • 100g dried borlotti soaked overnight and then simmered with a couple of bay leaves and 2 whole cloves of garlic in plenty of cold water until tender but still just a little nutty which should take about 2 hours.
  • extra virgin olive oil and extra for finishing
  • 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 mild onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of thick tomato paste
  • 600ml of the water you cooked the beans in – add water to make up 600ml if necessary
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a few fresh rosemary leaves crushed and then roughly chopped

Instructions AGAIN, I will not apologise for repeating myself !

First up a soffrito, warm your olive oil and then add the onion, soften until translucent and floppy, throw in the carrot and celery and let it all gently sizzle away but not colour for about 10 minutes.

Now add the garlic, stir and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add about 3/4 of the cooked beans and the tomato paste and a couple of tablespoons of the water you cooked the beans in. Cover the pan and let everything bubble away over a gentle flame for about 20minutes.

Pass everything through your mouli if you want a thicker texture or wizz it all up with a stick blender if you desire something very smooth.

Now put everything back in the pan along with the farro and the rest of the bean water and let it simmer away over a gentle flame for about 25 minutes (attentive stirring is necessary to avoid the clump of farro stuck to the bottom of your pan) at which point the farro will be soft, swollen and full of flavour.

To serve you add the rest of the reserved whole beans, salt amd feshly ground black pepper and good dribble of the nicest extra virgin olive oil you care to afford and some very finely chopped rosemary.

Eat and be happy.

11 Comments

Filed under Beans and pulses, food, recipes, soup

11 responses to “Borlotti bean and farro soup

  1. why, why, why do i not use farro more often? you make it look so unbelievably delicious. this soup is so straightforward and simple – just the way italian food should be.

  2. I do the exact same thing! I’m always mubling ‘I’m sorry’ to people who run into me! It’s silly.

    So, no sorrys needed. This post was a delight!

  3. OK – I love the sound and look of this soup. Why isn’t there 1000 comments on this?

    LOVE the table there too.

  4. I do love this kind of recipe for simple food made with storecupboard grains and beans.

    Your photograph of the table setting is really beautiful by the way – makes me want to be on holiday in Italy!

  5. Ah, very jealous of you in Rome! :)

    Your photos, especially those in this post, are beautiful!

  6. Looking lovely there Rachel.

    I’m rather apologetic on occasions; though in your case a thick hearty soup is just what you wanted and it’s what you got.

    Some lovely posts as of late, I’m just playing catchup!

  7. octobia

    Wow, another great recipe. I’ve never cooked with spelt but I’m getting some this weekend! Everything you cook makes me think of my Nonna. Keep it up, please.

  8. Jamie

    i just love your recipes…
    making my shopping list for the market this weekend and added everything for this soup.
    xoxo
    j

  9. suz

    I know I’m very late to the party (2 years late!) but somehow I ran across this recipe and it was just the thing for a cold March night in San Francisco! I had almost everything (I’ll admit to not using farro enough to keep it in the house) and an afternoon to myself where I could boil beans and whir them with a stick blender and stir the farro so it didn’t become a mushy lump in the pot. And now I’m having the leftovers as a lovely lunch during a rather hectic day! Thanks for giving me a moment to reflect on how a few simple ingredients can make something so wonderful!

  10. Pingback: Friday link roundup: this weekend in my kitchen « windycityvegan

  11. Pingback: Soup to Warm the Soul | Fictional Kitchen

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