Root Vegetable Soup
with chickpeas and farro
Recipe by Amanda Barker
Photos by Jenn Bakos
A nourishing, steaming hot bowl of soup is the perfect accompaniment — or antidote — to a cold winter’s day in New England. This particular soup is brimming with winter root vegetables, tender chickpeas, and toothsome farro; it is winter comfort food that will warm you from the inside out, an ideal meal when you need to thaw out after a chilly outdoor adventure. Cook up a big pot of this soup the day before you head out to the mountains for a day of skiing or sledding, then when you return home and are in desperate need of warmth and nourishment, simply reheat it on the stove. Or pack the hot soup into a thermos and bring it along with you on a hike through the snowy woods. When you start to get cold and hungry halfway through your hike, you’ll be glad you thought ahead. This soup might just become your winter mealtime hero.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 medium shallot, finely diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
1 ½ tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
3 cups peeled and diced sweet potato (about 2 medium sweet potatoes)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
8 cups (64 ounces) vegetable or chicken stock/broth (homemade or store-bought), plus more if needed to thin the soup (especially if reheating the next day)
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups cooked farro (cooked according to package directions)*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, shallot, celery, carrots, parsnips, Italian seasoning, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper; sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion and shallot are translucent and just starting to become golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the sweet potato, garlic, and another pinch of salt and pepper; sauté, stirring continuously, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and the broth or stock. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender (but not mushy), about 10 to 15 minutes. (Depending on how large or small you diced the sweet potato, the time can vary.
Stir the chickpeas and cooked farro into the soup, and simmer a few minutes more until heated through. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add more stock or broth (or even water in a pinch). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve bowls of soup drizzled with olive oil or pesto and/or sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
*To yield 3 cups of cooked farro, you’ll need to cook about half of a 1-pound package (8 ounces, or about a heaping cup) of dried farro. The cooking time depends on the variety of farro you choose: pearled, semi-pearled, or whole (unpearled). Generally speaking, pearled and semi-pearled farro will cook in about half the time (20 to 30 minutes) as whole farro (45 to 60 minutes, or more). Simply follow the cooking instructions on the package, and start checking and tasting for doneness a few minutes before the lower end of the cooking time range given on the package. When it’s done, the farro should be tender, yet still a bit chewy.