Comforting Chicken Vegetable Farro Soup
What is farro?
Farro is a food made up of the grains of certain wheat species — three in particular: spelt, emmer, and einkorn. Being derived from wheat makes it not a gluten free option. It’s an ancient grain and said to also be a super food, high in fiber (higher even than rice and quinoa) and an excellent source of protein and also nutritionally dense - with B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and iron. It has a distinct chewy texture similar to barley or wild rice. It retains its al-dente texture long after cooking, making it the perfect standalone side dish or base for all kinds of grain bowls or a hearty farro salad. It also has a really nice nutty quality to it which I love.
How do you cook farro?
Farro does not need to be soaked before cooking. It is cooked like you would cook any grain. After it’s rinsed it can be toasted like you would toast quinoa or rice to bring out the flavours of it then it’s boiled in water for approximately 30 minutes usually measuring 2-3 cups of water for every 1 cup of farro. Any excess water can be drained after it’s cooked. If you are cooking farro to add to your soup, you don’t have to cook it for the whole 30 minutes as it will continue to cook in the soup. Always check the manufacturer’s recommended time and label for indication of type of farro, the most common ones being either pearled or whole. For more information on the types of farro and cooking time check this source out
What can you make with farro?
I love using it in soups salads, casseroles and stews. It also makes a great side dish like rice. It absorbs all the flavours it is cooked with and works well with many cuisine types and flavours. I love that it holds it’s texture and it’s nutty taste. It’s got a lot of body, it’s very hearty, and has a wonderful nutty flavour that I love. So not only is it good for you, but it tastes fabulous too. I love to include it in my meal prep like I do with quinoa. I can easily make a batch ahead and add it to soups, salads and stews I make through the week or at least the first few day of the week cause it usually doesn’t last that long in our house.
This soup has two versions that you could make. The recipe below is the 30 minute version which I usually make and my husband makes for me when I’m sick. It’s wonderful, fragrant and the broth tastes so wonderful with the sweetness of the leeks. The quick version or what I like to call my midweek version uses store-bought rotisserie chicken that you can shred up and add to your soup which cuts down the cooking time quite a lot. You can also use any leftover chicken as well that you might have hanging around in the fridge. You can also use store bought good quality broth or homemade broth. The longer version, and hands down the more flavourful version, includes making your own stock with a whole chicken, herbs and vegetable cuttings. Homemade broth and the chicken from it make this dish even more flavourful, but I don’t always have homemade broth on hand. Whatever method you use you will love how hearty this soup is and how delicious it is. It’s on my list of favorite chicken soups and I’m sure it will make it on yours too!
- 1 cup of farro
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 2 leeks cleaned thoroughly and chopped - white and light green parts only (alternatively a handful of spring onions or one large yellow onion)
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 stem of rosemary whole
- 4 stems of thyme whole
- ¼ cup white wine (optional)
- 6 cups chicken broth or water plus more if needed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (breast or thighs - (approx 1-1.5 lbs)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup of fresh parsley for garnish
- ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese
For the farro
- Wash farro and then toast it in medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown and smells nutty, about 2-3 minutes
- Stir in 1 tsp. salt and 2 cups water. Cover and simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes; strain any remaining liquid, if necessary and set aside.
For the soup
- Heat up oil and butter to medium in a large stock pot and sauté leeks, carrots, celery and onion for approx 7-10 minutes or until tender and edges start to get golden
- Add garlic, herbs and farro and sauté for another couple of minutes until the garlic is nice and fragrant then add the wine if using and allow to cook for a minute then add the broth and let simmer away on medium for 20 minutes stirring occasionally and checking if it needs more broth or liquid.
- Add the shredded chicken and peas and simmer for 10 more minutes and then serve garnished with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan and crusty bread.