Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kale, chick pea and farro soup

As I noted in an earlier post while I am happy to use a bit of Osem soup powder now and again, I avoid canned beans when I can.  Go figure.

This is real detox food, something that we needed after the holidays and a deep-fat,sugar  and alcohol filled trip to Austin.   I will give the recipe how we made it (cooked, not canned chick peas but Osem soup powder, quick cooking farro) and suggest a varity of substitutions so that you can fit it with the way you cook.  If your pantry is stocked like ours, this is a super-easy soup an great on a chilly day.

Kale, chickpea and farro soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalkes celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 carrots, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 bunches of kale (preferably Russian or lacinato kale, but use what you can get, including a bag of the pre-washed stuff); wash, remove coarse ribs and cut into thick shreds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 quarts water (bringing it to a boil separately while you are doing the rest will save lots of time)
  • parmesean cheese rinds (optional, but highly desireable)
  • 1/2 pound chickpeas, cooked, with their soaking liquid (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon Osem powder, or two bullion cubes (more or less)
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking farro

  1. Heat the oil on medium-high in a 4-quart pot, and add the onion, celery and carrot as they are prepared and saute until soft but not browned.  Add a sprinkline of  salt and pepper, which will help this along, but not too much salt since the soup powder and cheese rind will be salty.
  2. Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  3. Add the kale and saute, stirring occasionally until it wilts and loses much of its volume.
  4. Add the water and cheese rind and bring the soup to the boil.
  5. Turn heat down to simmer and cook 20 minutes. 
  6. Add the chickpeas and their water and bring to the boil again.
  7. Add the Osem powder if using, taste for saltiness, and correct seasonings.
  8. Add the farro and cook about 10 minuts until tender.  If you are using pearled farro, not precooked, it may take around a half hour so add it when you add the water.
  9. Serve on its own, with a drizzle of olive oil, or some grated parmesean cheese.

Chickpeas:  I prefer homemade chickpeas for this, and often have some in the freezer.  Soak one pound of chick peas for eight hours or overnight in plenty of water with a pinch of baking soda.  Drain, rinse and put in a pot,  cover with water by about one inch, bring to the boil and simmer until done, about 30-45 minutes.  Skim the scum that comes to the surface at the beginning of cooking.  Use half the chickpeas and liquid in this soup and freeze the rest to use in the recipe of your choice.  If you insist on using canned chickpeas it will still be good.  Use one large can, drain and rinse well, and increase the liquid in the soup by about 2 cups. 

Choices, choices, choices:  Fresh cooked chick peas but MSG-filled soup powder?  That is how I cook and people tend not to complain.  By all means, you can substitute canned chickpeas, as above, or use a vegetable stock (preferably homemade) if you swing that way.  If you are not concerned about kashrut, or eliminte the cheese rind, use a chicken or meat broth.   The parmesean cheese rind adds great umami flavor.  Alessandra Rovati of the wonderful Dinner in Venice blog notes that Italian Jews will often throw cheese rinds into soups in lieu of meat bones. The quantity is hard to specify, I would say a 2-3 inch piece is sufficient. 


  1. I have all kinds of recipes such as this which blithely call for Parmesan rinds, like we all have them lying around in our kitchens. Umm ... no.... I live way out in the boondocks and the only Parmesan I can get is an overpriced pre-packaged wedge with no rind to speak of. And I sure don't go through Parmesan fast enough to keep me in soup. I keep wondering if city folk have some magical source that country folk don't.

  2. Hi Suzan -- I have no magic source other than the leftover rind of the good parmesan that I use for other uses. However, i find that I would love to have more rinds than I produce as by-products of my cheese use. I was in Austin a few weeks ago and they sell cheese rinds separately, but I haven't seen that in the markets I frequent in NYC. A couple of possibilities:
    --Mail order some real Parmiggiano or Grana Padano and you will have rinds.
    -- Are there any other locally available strong hard cheeses that have rinds, you can subsitute those.
    --If you are not vegetarian, use a meat broth.
    --The point is umami, the fifth taste of gltamate richness, so substitute other umami-rich ingredients. You might add a few anchovy filets with the sauteed aromatics, or some tomato paste. Another possibility is to throw some washed dried mushrooms into the soup, or add s asmall amount of soy sauce or even better Bragg's aminos, an umami rich soy product available in many health food stores.
    Good luck!