~ Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup with Parmigiano ~
Autumn in a bowl sums up this nourishing soup. Sweet butternut squash and sturdy kale team up with farro, an ancient Italian wheat grain, known as spelt in English. Farro is a hulled wheat, which means it retains its husk during harvest. The husk serves as a protective cloak, preserving nutrients and protecting the kernel from insects and pollutants, which permits the grower to avoid pesticides. Rich in protein, fiber and B vitamins, farro has a satisfying nutty flavor which adds heft with health to soups and stews. The final touch in this warming soup is a chunk of Parmigiano cheese, which is nestled into the simmering stock, breaking down and releasing umami flavor while thickening the soup.
Farro, Kale and Butternut Squash Soup
Barley may be substituted for the farro. Serves 6-8.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed, green parts discarded, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 cups butternut squash, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup farro
6 cups chicken stock, plus additional stock as necessary
1 (15-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1 (2-inch) chunk of Parmesan rind
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups shredded kale leave
Finely grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add leek, garlic, onion and celery. Sauté 2 minutes. Add butternut squash and farro. Sauté one minute. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, cheese chunk, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender and farro is cooked, about 30 minutes. (Add more stock to desired consistency if soup is too thick.) Taste for seasoning. Stir in kale leaves; simmer until kale brightens in color and just wilts, about one minute. Ladle into bowls and grate cheese over the soup. Serve immediately.