Farro and Bean Soup, Tuscan style, inspired by a cooking class done in Tuscany, Italy, featuring a grain, Farro, that is both flavorful and has a bit of toothiness to it. Combine that with a great vegetable broth, white navy beans and mirepoix, and we have a wholesome and comforting dish!
Farro and been soup, Tuscan style, beginning with a great mirepoix, your classic celery, carrots and onions, some spices and these flavor packed white navy beans and farro, and some home made croutons, and you have the makings of a delicious and scrumptious winter soup.
This year we decided to spend a lot more time in Italy, and while we were there we took a trip to Tuscany where we would do a day course offered by a fellow Italian blogger, Giulia of Jul's Kitchen. Imagine being in the countryside of Tuscany, rolling hills, grain fields, and the idea of just how many organic foods are produced here, and spending time learning the culture from a true native who grew up in the area, sharing her knowledge with a group of us, exciting. Pulling up to a beautiful rock farm house, a huge white dog welcoming committee and Jules waving from the upper window welcoming us in with such warmth. Nicoletta and I were very excited to get started and meet other fellow international bloggers and foodies. The yard was spectacular overlooking a vast area of land, some olive trees, and I could not help but notice a wood fired oven. It has always been a dream of mine to build one. I love the smell of the wood burning, the flavor of the food cooking in there, and not to mention, Pizza nights would be at a whole different level. One day, one day.......................
Now back to our story.
This particular class was showing the recipes from a style known as La Cucina Povera (kitchen of the poor). This particular style of cooking teaches how to make meals that are very substantial, filling, and very economical. The recipes chosen for this class were: appetizer croutons, one flavored with curry and another with garlic, and olive oil, pappa al pomodoro, a green been and beet salad, braciole which are a beef fillet double egged and breaded then fried and lastly stewed in a tomato sauce (coming soon to our blog), an amazing torta di pane (bread torte), and lastly this wonderful Farro and Bean soup. I loved being in that studio kitchen chopping carrots, onions, and celery. It is one of my favorite things to do as far as prep work. I remember getting a slap chop once and I think I only used it once, missed all that chopping technique. Now it rests in the kitchen gadget grave yard. The best part of the class sitting down to a family style dinner, wine in glass and a quick salute (cheers), and the sound of forks and spoons clanging began. The food spectacular, the people amazing, the ambiance surreal, and the great white dog, majestic, also a foodie, he kept trying to slip into the kitchen but sadly was removed right away.
So wanting to share what we learned, here is:
The making of La Cucina Povera: Farro and Bean Soup, Tuscan style.
Even in Tuscany the base of a great soup is a mirepoix. In this particular dish at the class we used some lardo in the base, a type of bacon let's say with a rich fat and salt and herb cured from a region in Tuscany called Colonnata. We opted not to use any meat and make it vegan user friendly. I love that smell of the combination of celery, carrots, and onions, sauteing with some herbs, salt and pepper, always an aroma awakening the senses of hunger for me, and one that brings back many memories from going to find old chickens at the city center market, to waking up on some Sunday mornings to a soup broth that had been cooking for hours and would bless us at the Sunday lunch table. The carrots were graciously given to us by my parents who are amazing produce gardeners, and we are the recipients of many a produce from greens, to peppers, tomatoes, etc. Lucky we are!
The white beans and vegetable broth bouillon, we purchased from Barb's Kitchen, a store in the south end of Edmonton, which is filled with everything and anything kitchen related, plus an area for some dried foods such as these dried white navy beans, and vegetable broth. This store is amazing and very dangerous to the pocket book, especially for us bloggers, but I do recommend checking it out, you won't be disappointed. The farro was bought in Italy, at Eataly, and traveled back with us in our luggage, among a plethora of other products, that we savor slowly as not wanting to let go of that great Italian taste and experience. So with all the ingredients at hand we can get started on making this Farro and Bean Soup, Tuscan style!
The prep goes something like this:
- Place dried beans in a bowl cover with water and let soak over night.
- Chop up carrots, celery, onions.
- In a nice heavy soup pot heat up some olive oil, toss in veggies (mirepoix) and saute till onions become translucent.
- Drain the white beans and drop into pan with mirepoix. Season with salt, pepper, paprika and stir well.
- Pour in water, cover and let simmer till beans are to your textured liking.
- Remember to stir occasionally as the soup cooks.
- Take some day old bread, cut into cubes, place in a bowl.
- Drizzle in some olive oil, garlic, herbs of your choice, salt and pepper, and toss.
- Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a pre heated 375° F oven till nice and golden brown.
- Ladel soup into a bowl, top with some of the croutons, and you are ready to chow down on this wholesome Farro and Bean Soup.
The flavor is amazing, the broth rich in starch and veggie taste, slowly simmered and intensified in flavor from the concentrated heat and time. The beans wonderful, not over cooked but just a nice slight crunch with that salty starchy flavor and the Farro complimenting this texture wonderfully with its almost barley taste and contour. The carrots, many of them, sweet, with those onions beautifully caramelized and evident in each mouthful. The the icing on the cake, the croutons, nicely toasted offering a wonderful crunch to every spoonful of Farro Bean soup, releasing the olive oil, salt, and herbs, to mingle with the vast flavors of the soup.
This Farro and Bean Soup, Tuscan style, is a perfect wholesome, hearty, meal, which would be great to have after shoveling snow in the briskness of winters clutches, melting the frost off your face and warming your hands as you grasp the sides of the bowl and deliver a spoonful of this soup into your mouth. As it slowly runs down your throat warming you from inside out leaving you with that oh so comforted feeling.
Song of the Day: "Over The Hills and Far Away" by Led Zeppelin, a true classic!Print
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