There are a lot of ways to adjust this soup to your own taste, however, this version has a Tuscan touch.
By Kathy Bechtel
- 1½ cup dried beans, such as borlotti or cannelloni
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
- 9 ounces finely chopped canned plum tomatoes
- 1 cup farro
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup finely minced flat-leaf parsely, for garnish
- ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
- The night before cooking, put the beans to soak in cool water to cover to a depth of 1 inch.
- The next day, drain the beans and place in a saucepan with fresh water to cover to a depth of 1 inch. Bring to a simmer, salt, cover, and simmer gently until the beans are tender. Timing will depend on the age of the beans, and can take from 45 to over an hour. Add boiling water if needed as the beans absorb what is in the pot. When the beans are soft, drain, reserving the cooking water for use later in the recipe. Salt the beans to taste.
- While the beans are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until the pancetta starts to release its fat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat.
- Set aside about ½ cup of the beans. Puree the remaining beans and the reserved cooking liquid in a food processor and add to the vegetables in the soup kettle. Stir in the reserved beans. Place over low heat, and when the soup starts to simmer, add the farro and stir to mix well. The liquid should be fairly dense but not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add a little boiling water if necessary to thin.
- Cover the pan and cook the farro for about 45 minutes, or until the grains are swollen and soft. Check frequently and add more boiling water if the puree starts to stick.
- When done, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately, garnishing the soup with a sprinkle of parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Pass the grated cheese at the table.
Kathy Bechtel’s obsession with food and cooking began as a teenager. After years following a traditional career path as a telecommunications engineer, she left to attend culinary school and wine training, and is now combining her passions for food and wine, the outdoors, and travel as owner and Culinary Tour Director of Italiaoutdoors. In this role, Kathy leads small bicycle, skiing and walking tours that explore the authentic regional cuisines, local products and undiscovered wines of Northeastern Italy.