A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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Farro Vegetable Soup

January 12th, 2013

Umbria is a lesser known region of Italy just east of its more famous cousin Tuscany. Just as beautiful, but less crowded and more rustic. In October the warm sunny days of summer are gone, and the air is chilly. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that almost every restaurant I visited for lunch was featuring a farro vegetable soup. This classic dish is hearty and robust; but interestingly it was slightly different in almost every restaurant. I have made this soup many times, and in the spirit of a peasant dish, I also modify the ingredients to reflect what I have in my pantry.

Farro

Farro is a grain with a nutty flavor and a toothsome texture. I use it in many recipes as an alternative to rice or orzo; not just in soups but also in salads and risotto. Farro is readily available in Italian specialty stores or online.

When I make this soup I would always add onion, carrot and celery. Today’s version also includes leek and turnip. If you look at the Mise-en-Place below, you will also notice a little pancetta. In Umbria, either pancetta or a ham bone is included to add depth of flavor. I prefer pancetta.

Mise-en-Place

Recipe for 4 Servings:

2/3 cup farro, chopped                                            1 leek, diced

1 onion, diced                                                             1 small turnip, diced

2 carrots, diced                                                           1/4 cup pancetta, diced

2 celery, diced                                                             1/4 tsp tomato paste

pinch oregano                                                             pinch parsley flakes

1 qt. vegetable broth                                                  2 cans chicken broth

Parmigiana Reggiano cheese, grated                     salt & pepper

First, saute the pancetta till brown, then remove it from the pan. Next I use a knife to rough chop the farro, which I believe  produces a thicker consistency. Now add the vegetables to the pan and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes (add a little olive oil is needed). Add the farro into the pan with the vegetables and toast the farro for about a minute. Finally add the other ingredients (except the cheese) and cook for about 30 minutes. You can test the farro just like you would risotto, the grain should be cooked, firm but not mushy.

Ladle the soup into a bowl and grate Parmigiana Reggiano cheese on top.

Farro Soup

Buon Appetito!

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