Legend has it that this soup was used to feed the Roman army. Farro was a part of everyday life in ancient Rome. It is known as the “mother of wheat” because it is considered to be the ancestor of all wheat species. Farro is a good source of iron, magnesium, protein, and dietary fiber, and it is easy to digest.
This soup is thick and filling. It is almost like “farrotto,” an alternative to rice-based risotto.
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 thin slices of pancetta
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
4-5 whole peeled tomatoes, canned
1 15 oz. can cannellini or borlotti beans
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup of farro (semi-pearled or pearled, not whole grain)
Heat olive oil in a wide soup pot or saucepan. Add onion, carrot, and celery and gently cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add pancetta and continue cooking until the fat has melted.
Add tomatoes and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the canned beans, along with their liquid and two cups of vegetable stock (Note: if using dried beans for this recipe include 2 cups of water from your soaking/cooking prep.)
Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Transfer the mixture back into the pot and add the farro along with the third cup of stock and continue cooking over low heat uncovered for about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir now and then to make sure the soup is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the farro is al dente. Farro has a naturally chewy consistency. It should be a fairly thick soup but you can add more stock or water to your liking.
Check for seasoning. Serve the soup with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serves 4.