So, I’ve been away from the blog for a while. I had one of those colds that isn’t enough to keep you home, but drains any extra energy you have for extra projects like blogging. And then, when I got rid of that, we managed to misplace the battery charger for the camera, so there were no photos and what’s a food blog without pictures? But today, it all came together. Cold is gone, battery is found and charged, so I’m back! This weekend I made soup. It was supposed to rain all week, so I thought some of my favorite soup would hit the spot and I had some beans to use up. This recipe is from Alice Waters Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. It’s a beautiful book with drawings and no photos, so you have to use your imagination to picture how the dish will look. She writes lovely descriptions, so it works. The great thing about having made this soup on Sunday is that when I came home today, I just pulled it out of the fridge, warmed it up and a delicious dinner was ready in no time at all. It’s completely worth the effort on Sunday to have this soup on a rainy Tuesday night after a long day at work.
Tuscan Bean and Farro Soup
(from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters)
2-3 hours depending on the beans, about 30 minutes of that active time
2 cups dried cannellini or kidney beans
1 yellow onion
1 small leek
1 small carrot
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium tomatoes
1 sprig thyme
6 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 small piece prosciutto or smoked bacon
6 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
1 cup farro (available at PCC in the bulk section or at PFI)
2 cups water
pesto for garnish, optional
Soak the beans overnight or for several hours. When ready to make soup, peel and dice the onion, the white part of the leek, the carrot, and the garlic. Stew the diced vegetables over medium-low heat in the olive oil in a nonreactive pot until the vegetables are translucent. Peel and seed the tomatoes as follows: using a sharp knife, make a cross on the bottom of each tomato and remove the stem, blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, plunge in ice water and peel when cool, squeeze the tomatoes over the sink to get rid of most of the seeds.
Drain the beans and add them to the pot. Add the tomatoes, herbs, pepper flakes, prosciutto or bacon and stew for 5 minutes or so.
Add the stock, bring the soup to a boil and lower the heat to a slow simmer. Partially cover the soup and cook for about 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally. Add 2-3 teaspoons salt after about an hour.
While the beans are cooking, put the farro and 2 cups salted water in a saucepan. Cook at a simmer, covered, until the grains are soft and tender but not falling apart, about 45 minutes. (I often have to add more water before the farro is done, so hesitate to add more water if needed.)
Drain farro when done. When the beans are cooked, stir in the farro. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so, being careful not to overcook. Serve the soup with extra-virgin olive oil drizzled on top or a spoonful of pesto.