Farro, an ancient cousin of the wheat berry, is a toothsome and lovable grain. It cooks quickly and always remains pleasantly chewy. Most farro available here is imported from Italy, so the grain feels right at home in a minestrone.
Yield: Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup semi-pearled farro (see Notes)
1 can (28 ounces) peeled tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, with liquid
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½-inch slices
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup grated Romano cheese, plus more to pass at the table
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
Pinch of sugar (optional)
In a heavy 6 quart soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Italian seasoning and garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
Stir in the broth and the farro. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and squash them against the side of the pot with a large spoon. Stir in the cannellini and zucchini. Cover and cook over medium heat until the farro and zucchini are tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Stir in the parsley, cheese, remaining tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper to taste. If needed, balance the flavors with a bit of balsamic and sugar.
Speed Tip: Use semi-pearled farro—the kind most commonly imported from Italy—which cooks in about half the time of farro with all of its bran intact.
• Shortly before serving, stir in 1 bunch chopped arugula or a 6 ounce bag baby spinach.
• Substitute quick-cooking barley for the farro. Cook for only 2 minutes before adding the tomatoes.
• Use chickpeas instead of cannellini.
• Instead of or in addition to the zucchini, add a 10 ounce package frozen string beans or 1 cup frozen peas.