I know I just posted about soup. But bear with me. This isn't just soup - it's a calling card, an invitation, it brings people together. While it may not be world peace, it certainly would entice people to linger together at the bargaining table and get things done. This soup should be served in Washington D.C. It's hard to bicker while savoring this soup.
As it is, it's served in Lucca.
Lucca is the ideal Tuscan town to visit if you have vertigo. It's one of the few towns in Tuscany not perched atop a giant hill (which I deemed mountains). The street layout has not changed much since Roman times. Walking the "walls" (above) afforded views of the town, the duomo and enclosed gardens. The umbrella of chestnut trees and pines spoke of a gracious time.
Inside the town - all was light and shadow. And as we walked the streets, this aroma wafted over me and bid me to follow.
Through narrow streets and alleys that spoke of knowing many years, many people and many histories.
And so we found ourselves at Osteria Via S. Giorgio. The source of the inviting aroma.
The temps were well into the 80's (F) but we both felt that we had no choice. We had to order the soup. It was what brought us here.
I love the look of the speckled beans - like tiny eggs waiting to transform. Once cooked, they turn brown but offer such creaminess you want to ask it, "Are you really a legume?"
The recipe was adapted from Mark Bittman's attachment to the soup. I still am working on getting the full-flavored broth right - I am sure it involved things like meaty bones and pancetta.
But meanwhile, this is an awfully good start.
Mark Bittman used water and I used enriched beef broth. Feel free to turn it vegetarian and use water or vegetable stock.
The recipe is ripe for substitutions. Consider white beans instead of borlotti beans - even lentils would work well. Barley can sit in for the farro. And I am thinking adding some reconstituted porcini mushrooms would add earthiness.
Farro-Bean Soup Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, sliced thin
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup farro
1 cup dried borlotti beans (soaked over night or if you are forgetful like me - simmered for 2 hours)
1-14 oz can fire-roasted dice tomatoes (yes, fresh tomatoes would be nice - next July)
6 cups stock or water, add more if necessary
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to serve
- Put oil in large stock pot over medium heat. When hot but not sizzling add onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened - about 8 minutes.
- Add garlic and stir. Add farro, beans, tomatoes and stock. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil and then lower heat so the soup gently simmers. Cook until beans and farro are tender - about 75 minutes. Add stock if necessary.
- Stir in parsley and simmer 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Serve passing generous portions of the cheese.
The soup will always connect me to the walk under the chestnut trees and the stroll through alleyways - and that search for the sweet aroma. But I promise if you make this on a day you are craving warmth and sustenance and share it with those you care about - you too will also have a connection to this wondrous soup.