Although this is a meatless dish, the cabbage and onions provide a hearty flavor base. Cooked farro berries or ground farro is used. Whole berries go nicely with the rustic character of the soup, but ground farro gives the soup a nice thick consistency.
Yield: FOR 6 PEOPLE
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, quartered and thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1¼ pounds cabbage, cored and shredded
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
10 cups water
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 cup farro berries (soaked in water to cover for 1 hour and drained) or coarsely ground farro
plenty of freshly ground black pepper
¼ pound semisoft pecorino cheese, shaved into paper-thin slices
In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic, onions, bay leaves, and rosemary and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cabbage. Sauté until it softens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and sauté for an additional minute. Add the water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently until all the flavors marry and the soup is fragrant, about 30 minutes. Stir in the soaked farro, if using, and cook the soup until the grains are tender but still somewhat chewy, about 15 minutes. If using ground farro, stir it into the soup during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary, taste for salt, and add pepper. Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls. Cover the surface of each with a layer of pecorino shavings. Serve immediately.
Make-Ahead: As with any cabbage soup, the flavors are improved when it is made a day or two in advance. To cook in advance, make the soup, let it cool, then cover and refrigerate. When it is time to serve, reheat and add the pecorino to each bowl.