To find the ‘perfect dish’ is chasing the impossible. But this beautifully simple, Italian farro soup recipe, or zuppa di farro, surely comes close. There’s a creamy taste from the blended pinto beans, and wonderful texture from the farro – swollen with deliciously stocky flavours.

Farro is an ancient grain which has been grown in Tuscany since Biblical times. Known as the ‘breadbasket of Italy’, the area has always been big in wheat production, with a large farming community. A traditional Tuscan farro soup recipe might be labelled as ‘peasant fare’ due to its lack of meat and reliance on vegetable stock for flavour. But the beans provide protein, with the fibre-rich farro giving the dish a nutty flavour, and the simple but beautiful vegetable stock demonstrating why ‘peasant fare’ remains quite so popular.

This isn’t a quick soup to make – particularly with the pinto beans needing soaking overnight. So we recommend doubling the quantities, and freezing the extra portions. Perfect for an unseasonably chilly evening, spent waiting for spring to arrive. Also try substituting the farro for spelt. It has a harder husk, creating more dramatic textural difference between the soft pinto beans.

Italian Farro Soup Recipe
Serves 4

100g farro
125g pinto beans
1 litre vegetable stock
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

To garnish
Roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

  1. Soak the pinto beans in cold water overnight, and then boil them in 1.5 litres of salted water.
  2. Blend half of the pinto beans, and then set both the whole and the blended beans to one side.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and fry the onion, carrot and celery until softened.
  4.  Add the tomato sauce, and cook for a further two minutes.
  5. Add the farro to the pan, and then pour over the litre of vegetable stock.
  6. Season with salt and rosemary, and then simmer for 40 minutes.
  7. Add the whole pinto beans to the pan, and also stir in the blended pinto beans. Cook for a further five minutes.
  8. Season, serve and garnish with chopped parsley.