Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hearty winter soup: beans, cabbage and farro

I hope you all enjoyed a fun New Year’s Eve and relaxing New Year’s Day. Ours was pretty low key. We had dinner at home and then popped into a friend’s party later on. We were back well before midnight. Today we ran errands and did a lot of long overdue organizing. Not too exciting, but satisfying to get done.

The weather here has turned particularly cold and blustery. It’s the time of year that’s best suited to nesting at home, keeping warm, and eating comfort foods. I’m turning to some of my winter favorites – beans and cabbage.

I’ve written about Rancho Gordo heirloom beans before. They have become a cult favorite among those who love beans and who love artisanal products and not without good reason: they are unusual, full of flavor and cook well. I’ve often found that typical store-bought have been sitting on the shelf so long they take a long time to cook and shrivel up when re-hydrated. These are produced in small quantities and turn over quickly, thereby having none of those problems.

A terrific hearty soup using one of their varieties appeared in Metropolitan Home in November. As soon as I read it, I knew I had to make it. Conveniently I had all of the shelf-stable ingredients on hand and only had to supplement them with the few additional fresh ingredients. Farro is a new favorite of mine and I was excited to try it in a soup. The soup is thick, hearty and filling and sings of all of the good things about winter.

p.s. Rancho Gordo has a new cookbook out. I have not had a chance to take a look yet.

Heirloom bean and farro soup with savoy cabbage

1 pound dried borlotti beans
1 cup farro
3/4 pound savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, minced
1 large yellow onion,minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 Tbsp Italian parsley, minced plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 cup finely chopped can (San Marzano, preferred) tomatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Soak beans overnight in water to cover generously.the next day,drain the beans and put them in an 8-qt pot with 3 quarts cold water. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, skimming any foam. Cover partially and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the beans are beginning to soften, about 45 minutes.

Stir in the farro and the cabbage. Return the soup to a simmer, partly covered, 30-45 minutes more.

While the beans and farro cook, heat the olive oil and pancetta in a skillet over moderate heat. Let the pancetta sizzle and render some of its fat, but do not let it brown. Stir in the onion, garlic, rosemary, parsley and hot pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, raise the heat to moderately high, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and the tomatoes have softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir the contents of the skillet into the soup pot and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Season with salt. Garnish with more minced Italian parsley before serving.


Cannelle Et Vanille said...

beautiful and comforting images sabra!

Anonymous said...

The weather is perfect for comfort food, and soup Great recipe :) Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I happen to have all these ingredients on hand, and the weather is perfect for a pot of soup!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you and one of your comment contributors had all those ingredients on hand. I don't even know what farro is! Where was that lovely, cozy picture taken from? Perfect spot for the hot soup. sudy

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!

What a nice shot! I just love your photography, it is inspiring.

Many Regards from Dubai, Chris

Meeta K. Wolff said...

oh what a lovely little spot to enjoy such a lovely warm soup! sabra, it's been so great getting to know you and enjoying your blog throughout 2008 I really look forward to many more delicious creations in 2009. Thanks for all your FLickr support too means so much to me ;-)

Anonymous said...

This sounds so amazing, perfect for the cold weather. Can't wait to try this recipe.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year. Perfect weather for soup, as you say. Does this freeze well?

Helene said...

Happy New Year Sabra! Looking forward to all your beautiful recipes and pictures in 2009!

MaggieB said...

I'm in love with Rancho Gordo beans, but recently switched to some local beans grown in my back yard (sort of). I love Baer's Best Beans from Hamilton, Mass - they're also heirloom varieties which he grows on his land.

More here:

This is a great site with wonderful photos. Thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

Sounds so good, and I love the shot!
Well done you!

sarah the baker yoon said...

that is a BEAUTIFUL room.
siighh i wished i lived in a place like that!

Tracy said...

I have all of the ingredients on hand but the Rancho Gordo beans, and no way to get them quickly. Is there any bean you could suggest as a substitute? Maybe something canned?

Sabra said...

Hi Tracy!
Yes - they are not always that quick to find. I'd personally order them and wait! It's worth it, but if not, I'd go for a similar medium-sized hearty dried bean, not a canned one. This recipe assumes dried beans and the cooking directions and time are geared accordingly.

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