I was never a big fan of soups. Aside from matzo ball soup of course. But I don’t really consider that a soup. It’s more of a baseball-sized dumpling with broth-like gravy and maybe some noodles and carrots thrown in for good measure. But as much as I love matzo ball soup, it still has a specific time and place in my life, and I only slurp it up on certain occasions: when I’m sick—with pretty much any illness or ailment, on Passover, on Rosh Hashanah or when I’m at DZ Akins Delicatessen on a weeknight.
But soups, in general; they’ve never really been my thang if you know what I mean. I’ve always thought of soup as something old people who soak their teeth in highball cocktail glasses overnight eat, because it’s soft and it warms their skeletal frames. And it’s that heat that I take issue with. If I had the choice, I’d rather be cold and shivering than hot and sweaty. And when I eat soup, I feel like I’m having hot flashes. Like I’m going through menopause; or men-uh-oh-pause in my case. And that makes me feel old. As if I’m past my prime. Jonathan says it’s just that I’m cold-blooded, but I’ll one up him and say it’s my cold heart that doesn’t like the heat.
But something changed in the last few years, and I took a chance on making my own soup. One that wasn’t traditional and lame. And that was my Kale and Mushroom soup with cheese and chicken ravioli. And suddenly I saw the light at the end of the soup-train-tunnel. I realized that soups were more than just a bunch of mush and bland broth. They could be hearty and full of delicious vegetables and proteins. Soups quickly became my gateway drug to beef stews and root vegetable purees (thanks to my immersion blender). The possibilities were endless! And once I realized how easy it was to make soup, and that in doing so, I could use every random vegetable, herb, and remnant item in my cupboard….I had a newfound appreciation for the “bottomless pot” of warm slurpylisciousness. Yeah…I went there.
Everything But the Kitchen Sink Vegetable Farro Soup
Ingredients (aka everything in your kitchen!):
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 anchovy filets
- 1 tblsp tomato paste
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms ground to a powder
- 6 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 medium leeks roughly chopped (white and light green parts)
- 1 bunch of kale (de-ribbed and roughly chopped)
- 3 large carrots chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 4 green onion stalks diced into ¼ inch pieces
- 2 large celery stalks in ½ inch pieces
- 2 tblsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 springs of fresh thyme
- ¼ cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley (2 tsp of dried parsley)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tblsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup of farro rinsed
- 2 cans of vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
- 6 cups of water
- ¼ of a head of cabbage roughly chopped
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
In a large soup pot heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes and anchovy filets on medium high heat. Once the anchovies have dissolved, add the carrots and celery. Cook the vegetables for a minute, giving them a head start, before you add the leeks. Salt and pepper to taste, because you want to build flavor as you go and sweat the vegetables for another 2-4 minutes.
Add the ground porcini mushrooms, the bay leaves, and sprigs of thyme and garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes until you can smell the garlic.
Clear a space in the middle of the pot base, and place the tomato paste on the base. Stir the paste for a minute, allowing it to soften while the tinny taste burns off. Then add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and the dried parsley and stir gently for another few minutes.
Then add the broth (vegetable or chicken), the Kale, green onions, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and farro. Stir until everything is well combined, and then cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the corn kernels and cabbage, stir, and cook for another 7-10 minutes or until the farro is puffed up and tender. Just before serving, add the red wine vinegar, stir, and check whether or not it needs salt or pepper.
If it’s still a little “bland” add salt until it all comes together. If you can remove the bay leaves and thyme springs you should, otherwise warn your guests before you ladle this hearty and healthy soup into bowls and enjoy.
- If you don’t like bright acidity in your soup, you can avoid the red wine vinegar at the end, and the soup will be a little sweeter.
- If you’re a true vegetarian, then you can skip the anchovy filets.
- If you don’t like farro, or don’t want to use it, you can add beans, potatoes, or your favorite pasta.
- You can add almost any vegetable you want to this soup. It really is an “everything but the kitchen sink” sort of thing. A one-pot-wonder if you will.