Thursday, November 3, 2011

Farro-Bean Soup from Lucca



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. 

 Made with borlotti beans and farro, the slow simmering coaxes out such rich flavor that conversation ceases for a moment and listening begins.

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




  1. 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. 
  2. Add garlic and stir. Add farro, beans, tomatoes and stock. Stir to combine. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Stir in parsley and simmer 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. 
  5. 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.

43 comments:

Emily Malloy said...

Absolutely FANtastic!

Val said...

ok, color me ignorant, but where can I get farro and borlotti beans?

Claudia said...

Surdky's in Minneapolis has borlotti beans and farro can be had at Festival Foods and Kowalski's!

Jill Colonna said...

Claudia, I not only love this soup (and the big chiefs need this right now for Greece and Italy to come to a conclusion) but the fact it's from Lucca is giving me goose beans. Confession: visiting Puccini's house there, I was the worst teenager tourist and took the cover off and played it. It is something I feel guilty about but get the same feeling looking at your soup!

Mister Meatball said...

Only thing missing is the cheese rind in the pot while it's cooking.

Was that bickering?

Sorry. And I ain't even a knucklehead on the Hill.

Claudia said...

You you got me! Should've done the rind!

Carol Egbert said...

Lovely - I've pinned a link to my Pinterest Board, you can see it here http://pinterest.com/carolegbert/tasty-treats/

Cucina49 said...

My godmother lived there, but I have never been--alas! This soup looks wonderful.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I've got some borlotti beans looking for a home. I think I found it. Yes, Parmesan rind too.

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. said...

You could post a soup recipe every single day and I would be happy!

Amy said...

Lucca looks like a wonderful place to visit! This soup is so hearty, and perfect for this time of year when it is getting chilly! I would love a large bowl!

Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

lovely soup and adore little restaurants tucked away like that

Torviewtoronto said...

healthy looking soup Claudia perfect for this season

Aarthi said...

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Aarthi
http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/
I am having a Giveaway..
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Shari said...

Claudia, this soup looks fantastic. Your pictures are awesome, looks like I can just pick up that spoon and take a bite.

Lizzy said...

Oh, I love farro almost as much as Tuscany! Beautiful photos...my parents spent lots of summers in Cortona...and I was lucky enough to visit there once. I'm adding farro to my grocery list...your soup looks irresistible, Claudia!

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

Ahhh the combination of pulse and grain! So awesome, and so close to what I've been cooking this week.

I agree. Soup is never "just soup", unless you're the kind of person who only ever gets it from a tin or packet, in which case… erm… I don't wanna know you!

That Girl said...

We're at the season where you can never have too many soup recipes!

The Mom Chef said...

your description of walking the streets of Italy took me back there even though we weren't in Lucca. I love Italy. ::sigh::

This soup look amazing. I've never had (or seen) borlotti beans, but now I need to keep my eyes out for these tiny eggs. :)

Angie's Recipes said...

I have just baked some German Broetchen and your bean soup fits perfectly!
Beautiful shots of Lucca.

Mary said...

Your soup even looks warming and I love the ingredients you've used. The color here is wonderful. This would be perfect for alight fall supper. have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

The Café Sucré Farine said...

This soup looks fantastic! Just perfect for a rainy, cold day that we're having in the Carolinas! Wish I had a big bowl right now - but thanks to you, I know how to get one!

Velva said...

You are right, only good things can happen when eating soup. This is a hearty and soul satisfying meal. The romantic idea that you enjoyed it in the Tuscan region of Italy, just makes me swoon.

Have a great weekend.
Velva

Pegasuslegend said...

I cant wait to get out and buy some beans, been years since I made anything with them, living in Florida not too many speciality Italian stores here! Tuscan foods are my second favorite to Rome, this Region is full of flavor, family and warmth that only one that knows the heritage of great Italian foods appreciate the pride they take as you have to make such a soothing dish. This is one recipe I am thrilled to make soon. I will let you know how much I love it! Bookmarked!

Monet said...

This soup and your pictures transported me. I want a bowl and an airplane ticket. Thanks again for sharing with me. You know how to make me smile. I hope you have a blessed weekend!

Anne said...

This blog always makes me happy!
Smiles to you!

Reeni said...

Lucca is beautiful! And so is your soup! Can you believe I never had borlotti beans? Shame on me! This looks super comforting and warming for the soul.

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, What a beautiful soup! The soup and a nice loaf of crusty bread and you are set! Blessings, Catherine xo

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is a gorgeous soup. I'll have to look out for those borlotti beans, they sound wonderful. I agree with you, this soup ought to find its way in Washington DC.

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

I love farro soups, I make so many variations of them, they are always so comforting!

FOODESSA said...

It must be at least 20 years+ that Lucca was strolled by myself and Hubby...what fond memories ;)

This comforting soup is kind of similar to one my 'Nonna' used to make. Her little secret was placing some sautéed Italian, spiced sausage in the broth before straining it...wonderful addition for flavour. I'm sure your pancetta idea would serve you well next time as well. In the meantime, this soup looks incredibly appetizing Claudia.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

nazarina said...

Those barlotti beans reminds me of a South African "sugar bean", which unfortunately I cannot get here, bummer!
A beautiful plate of barlotti bean soup, such as yours, so what's needed for my frozen fingers & toes!

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Claudia- this is the soup I crave, rich in flavor and fiber.
Love that narrow alley shot, ooh the light!
LL

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

In my book there can never be enough wonderful soup recipes, Claudia! I am going to look for farro grains very soon and make this hearty soup.

Lucca looked like a beautiful town to visit ... just magical!

Joanne said...

I totally tend to think that soup can be life-altering and peace-inducing. This one looks like it could change the world. Delicious!

Peggy said...

This soup sounds fantastic! I don't doubt it's peace-keeping abilities =)

Heather Schmitt-González said...

You don't need to convince me! Plus, I may have posted three soups this week alone. Sheesh ;) It sounds wonderfully comforting (and I have everything to make a pot). Plus, I would love to insert myself into those dreamy photos. sigh....

Beth said...

Your soup looks wonderful. Lucca looks wonderful. Isn't it fantastic to have a dish that sweeps you away to another time and place?

Lizzy said...

PS...back to say my farro has been purchased and I hope to make some wonderful soup very soon! Thanks for the inspiration, Claudia~

OysterCulture said...

I am glad I am not the only one to follow my nose - this trip to Lucca looks amazing. Its a town I want to visit if only because of its focus on traditional Italian food, so glad you got to experience so fully with all your senses.

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

Oooh Claudia!

What a festive & good for you soup this is! looks so incrdibly tasty too! Yum! ;)

Magic of Spice said...

What a beautiful place...I love these photos and the tour you are sharing for us :) As I also love this soup, such gorgeous flavors and so comforting :)

Lizzy said...

This was the inspiration for the farro soup I made!!! Mmmmmm.