Monday, January 12, 2009

Zuppa di Farro e Fagioli

Farro and Cannellini Bean Soup

I first enjoyed a version of this dish in Umbria, where it was made with garbanzos instead of cannellini beans. The thick, rosemary scented soup warmed us on a cold night. The waiter brought a bottle of fresh-pressed olive oil to drizzle un filo (literally, a thread) on top. Wonderful! I've since seen various versions in other regions, including our area of Le Marche, and found that I prefer it with the delicate cannellini beans.

1 small onion, chopped
a clove or two of garlic, minced
one stalk celery, chopped
a carrot, minced
olive oil
a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary
a bay leaf
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup farro grain (or spelt)
3 cups water
2 cans cannellini beans
salt and pepper
peperoncino (chile powder or crushed chile) to taste

Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in olive oil until soft. Toss in the herbs and add the broth. Bring to a boil and add the farro and water, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the grain is tender, about 40 minutes. Add more water if necessary to maintain a good consistency but you don't want it too thin.

Drain and rinse the beans. Put one can of beans in the blender, adding a few ladlefuls of the soup stock to blender it to a smooth paste. Add the paste along with the other can of whole beans to the pot. Add the seasonings, partially cover and simmer about 10 minutes longer. Turn off the heat and let the soup rest about five minutes before serving. Remove the rosemary and bay leaf. At the table drizzle a thin stream of olive oil over the soup and enjoy.