the wonders of farro: chard and white bean soup with farro and spring vegetables

I think farro is my new favorite whole grain. I tried it this past winter at Café La Haye in Sonoma, served underneath quail with a port jus. it's tender and mild but not too bland, with a very satisfying, round texture -- and it works wonderfully in soup. this week, I made a chard and white bean soup with farro and spring vegetables -- sort of a mashup of different Italian soup recipes.

I used:
  • 1 scant tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I like Olio Beato, an organic oil from Italy)
  • 1 spring onion, diced fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced purple turnip
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-2 in. pieces
  • 2 cups cannellini beans (either cooked or canned)
  • 4 cups broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch green or red chard, rinsed and chopped (you can add the stalks in separately if you like -- toss them in with the green beans)
  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • fresh fennel tops (chop up the feathery bits)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • dried thyme (to taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • parmesan or grada padano (freshly grated)
I cooked the farro separately for about 10 minutes in a pot of boiling water, then set it aside. Meanwhile, I sauteed the onions and garlic in the olive oil, then added the celery and turnips. When these softened, I added in the 4 cups of stock (homemade vegetable stock, but bouillion or chicken stock would work as well), brought the soup to a boil, and turned it down to simmer. Then I threw in the green beans and let them cook a few minutes, then added the additional water, returned the pot to a boil, and stirred in the chard.

Once the chard turned a bright green and became tender, I added in the cooked farro and beans, and simmered for a few more minutes to make sure the farro were tender and the beans warmed through. I also added the fennel, parsley and thyme, and lastly salt and fresh grated pepper to taste.

Serve with grated parmesan or grada padano, and a little olive oil. Or toast a few chunks of bread with parmesan or oil and serve the soup over the croutons.

toxins in breast milk

Another reason to eat a plant-based, organic diet -- according to this article from the Chronicle last week, human breast milk has increasingly high rates of industrial and organic pollutants -- perchlorate, lead, plasticizers, dioxins, PCBs and similarly scary (and carcinogenic) things. This appears especially true for women in the industrialized world, and regulating or banning these substances is the best way to reduce our exposure to them. But according to the article:
Lifestyle choices do make a big difference in body burdens -- longtime vegans are least exposed to many of these chemicals, and reducing household dust, eating organic and using nontoxic cleaning and body-care products can reduce the levels of all kinds of chemicals in the body. But it's the entire lifetime exposure that counts.


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Fresh eggs is a communal blog devoted to sustainable food -- organic and biodynamic farming, traditional and vegetarian cooking, farmer's markets and community supported agriculture, local food, raw food, slow food, and the many other ways people are challenging conventional, centralized agribusiness.