Saturday, October 7, 2006

Great fall soup

I've had a bunch of farro on hand for several months now, and haven't quite known what to do with it. I bought it on a whim, thinking it sounded interesting and full of good nutrients (which it is), but it's almost entirely absent from most of my usual recipe sources. But yesterday I found a recipe on Whole Foods' website for a soup involving farro (as well as sausage, mushrooms, and leafy green escarole--yum!), so this evening I gave it a try. I've written it up here as I made it, based on a couple of minor changes that I made: I didn't have any garlic on hand (I know, I know--I thought I did, but it turned out that I'd used it all up), or beef stock, and so on.

Rustic farro soup with sausage, mushrooms, and escarole
Makes a little less than 6 quarts

14 oz. farro
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup carrots, cut into small dice
1 cup celery, cut into small dice
1 1/4 cup yellow onions, cut into small dice
1 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage
~8 oz. mushrooms, either mixed or of one variety (I used cremini, oyster, and shiitake), chopped
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups red wine (chianti would be a good choice here)
5 cups chicken broth (I recommend Better than Boullion if you don't have homemade on hand)
5 cups mushroom broth (again, I recommend Better than Boullion)
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Pick over the farro, put it in a bowl, and cover it with cool or lukewarm water. Let it soak for several hours--four was plenty for the farro that I had, but soaking times may vary.

Set a large soup pot over medium-high heat and add the EVOO. When the oil shimmers, add the carrot, celery, and onion and saute until the onions are translucent and tender, 10-15 minutes. Add the sausage to the vegetables and cook, breaking up with a fork or spatula into small pieces. When the sausage has browned, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release most of hteir liquid. Add the tomatoes and juice, wine, chicken and mushroom stocks, and crushed red pepper, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the drained farro and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 45 minutes. When the farro is sufficiently tender, add the escarole and chopped thyme, and simmer a few more minutes until the escarole is cooked.

I served this soup very hot, with grated Parmigiano on top, with slices of crusty bread and a glass of the wine I used in the soup. Delicioso.