This soup was one of the first dishes in Italy that I fell in love with. Zuppa di Farro. When my family took our first trip to Tuscany in 2006 (so long ago!) I had researched the local specialties like the diligent little nerd I was. I was so excited to see the soup that I had read about on a menu in the town of Lucca, and it most certainly lived up to all the expectations I had. It’s savory, filling, healthy, and like most of the dishes common in the hill towns around the city of Lucca it comes from almost exclusively local ingredients.
Seeing as, much to my disappointment, I don’t live in the rolling hills of Tuscany anymore getting some of the ingredients is a little more challenging. The most difficult ingredient was the farro grain which I splurged on at my local grocery store when I happened to see it there. One traditional Tuscan ingredient for this soup that you can find pretty easy here in the States is the barlotti beans (they are also called cranberry beans) because they are a common in Mexican cooking.
Zuppa di Farro– served with bread
Serves – Cost approx $ per serving
- 1-2 cups dry cranberry/barlotti beans, cooked ($.75)
- 4 slices bacon, finely chopped ($.25)
- 1 onion, minced ($.15)
- 2 carrots, minced ($.10)
- 3 ribs celery, minced ($.10)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 sprig rosemary, minced
- 3 oz / 1/2 can tomato paste ($.45)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup farro or spelt ($1.53)
- Extra virgin olive oil, drizzle for garnish
Begin the night before by soaking the beans. When you begin your soup, put the beans on the boil for 1-2 hours, or until very soft. To mince all the veggies, a food processor is quite helpful.
Put the bacon in a large pot and render out the fat over medium heat. When the bacon is half way cooked, add in the minced veggies and rosemary. Saute the veggies for 5 minutes. Next, add in the tomato paste, stir for 3 minutes or so. Now for the liquid. Add in the cooked beans with their cooking liquid and the stock and the farro grains. Cook until the farro is soft. (I had some farro that said it cooked in 10 minutes, and that was pretty accurate. Yours may take half an hour or so, but the softer the beans and veggies, the better.) Season to taste. Serve drizzled with olive oil, maybe with some lovely fresh bread? Buon appettito!