Farro e Fagioli (with Beets)

I most likely wouldn’t have even made this soup in the first place with that kind of waiting period, had I not just by chance put a bowl of beans soaking even though I didn’t know what I would do with them yet. My dried bean supply is getting embarrassingly high after a recent binge from Rancho Gordo. Then, one day passed, and then another, and all of a sudden, I needed to have beans for dinner.

But I really had wanted to make this fantastic borscht recipe that Becky taught me a few weeks ago which had a lovely nibble of farro mixed in.


That was some amazing borscht. But, I had these beans to use.

Then, I thought, perhaps pasta e fagioli. When I happened upon the pasta e fagioli recipe in Urban Italian that used farro instead of pasta, I knew I was onto something. All it needed was a bit of beet. And, then, while I was at it, perhaps a bit of leek. And carrot. And kale. And a whole lot more red pepper flakes, because I’m a sucker for a bit of a kick.


Hence, this soup was born. I’m still not really sure what to call it. It’s kind of like borscht, if borscht had hearty beans and farro. And it’s kind of like pasta e fagioli, if pasta e fagioli had beets and a big dollop of creme fraiche. What I will call it is really, really good. And, unfortunately at the moment all gone. Guess I need to get some more beans soaking.

PS: I’m not the only one who is loving the farro/bean combination… Heidi posted this beautiful stew not long ago!

Bean and Beet Soup with Farro

Makes 2 to 3 servings

1 cup dried white beans (such as Cannellini)
1 cup dried chickpeas
2 T olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/4 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 leek, diced
1 beet, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock, warmed
2 sprigs rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 stem Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
5 or 6 kale leaves, stems removed and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried farro
1 sprig sage
1 T olive oil
3 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Creme fraiche to garnish

Place the dried beans in a bowl and cover with water. Cover and let soak 1 to 2 days, and then drain.

On the day you are making the soup, place the farro in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until needed, at least 3 hours, and then drain just before using.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, and add the onion and celery and cook for about 2 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, leek, beet, carrot and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and beans, then pour in the stock. Add the herbs (tie them with butcher twine to make them easier to remove later). Bring to a simmer, and cook until the beans are very soft, between 1 and 2 hours.

When the beans just start to soften, place the farro, sage, olive oil and tomatoes in another pot over medium heat, and cover with the vegetable stock. Bring to a low boil, and then simmer for about 20 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the farro is soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the beans are very tender, season to taste. If you want a bit of a thicker broth, spoon out about 3/4 cup of the vegetables with some broth, puree it, and then add it back to the soup pot. Add the kale and cook for just a minute or two until it brightens.

To serve, ladle the soup into each bowl, add a heaping spoon of farro, and add a dollop of creme fraiche.

  • http://www.sense-serendipity.com Divina

    This is a beautiful bowl of soup. Never thought of adding beets to eat. The photos are gorgeous.

  • http://www.sasasunakku.com Sasa

    I’ve been using a lot of beans recently too – I can recommend a relative of the chickpea, cicerchia, if you’re interested in trying something new.

  • http://discoverbeef.blogspot.com Carrie Oliver

    Hello, dinner! Well, dinner a few days from now (since I have to soak the beans). I’ve been looking for new ways to cook with beans, thank you. ps Found this via Twitter based on Becky’s comment that she thought you and she had the same cast iron dutch oven; funny.

  • http://www.6bittersweets.com Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets

    What a beautiful, healthy soup. Sounds like I need to try some of those beans. I’ve heard amazing things about Rancho Gordo from just about every foodie. I <3 that spoon so much. I've been searching high and low for it but haven't found it yet.

  • http://thedelishdishblog.wordpress.com thedelishdish

    i just made some spanish-style chickpea soup this weekend and the soaking wait was so worth it. im a huge fan of borscht and love your bean twist on it!

  • http://kyleweber.com Kyle Weber

    This looks delicious! I rarely ever cook with beets! I’ll have to give it a try!

  • http://theitaliandishblog.com The Italian Dish

    Wow, that’s a meal – the soup looks wonderful. I love farro, but I’ve never soaked it all these years. I never knew you had to!

  • http://www.cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com Aran

    so much texture and flavor here lara. beautiful color.

  • http://www.remedialeating.com molly

    Oh my, I do think you’re on to something. I have tried and failed to love pasta e fagiolo too many times, but the farro, that is inspired! The toothsome chew ought to be pitch-perfect. And beets! So smart, for sweetness and light, not to mention color. I look forward to giving this a go…. Thank you.

  • http://www.gourmetfoodandgifts.com Jen

    this soup looks so delicious and healthy

  • http://www.italiekookboek.nl/ Denny

    What a wonderful dish. I make it tomorrow.

  • http://vandriessche-interieur.be/ keukens

    Hi, those are some very nice pictures. Looks and sounds delicious

  • edinburghgirl

    Ok so I was home working yesterday and I started on this dish. It took 6 hours of bean soaking, 3 hours of farro soaking, 1 hour of beet boiling, 2 hours of fagioli stew pressure-cooking, an hour of tomato farro reducing and then another hour of letting the whole thing rest.
    To be honest, it wasn’t really laborious most of the time, I could just pop it on the stove and let it do its own thing, but I must say, there was a moment where I thought, will this ever end? Its just a bean soup!
    But by the time we ladled it into bowls and I took that first bite I realise, no, no this is not just a soup. In fact its not like anything I’ve had before. The textures, the complexity of flavours and the fabulous colours all made this..stew-borscht-thing, one of the best things I’ve eaten so far and has seriously taught me to take my time in the kitchen, cross my ts and dot my i’s, so to speak. Thanks for this recipe, it was fan-tabulous!

  • http://www.dobox.com/ Bruce

    What a wonderful dish. I make it tomorrow.

  • Jazzy

    I’m calling it Fagioli sangre – amazing color

  • Rockool

    I would suggest beet greens rather than kale- you can get the beets with beet greens attached