I've stopped with my attempts at figuring out what exactly the weather in New York is. Summer drew to a close, nights became cooler, but suddenly the weatherman threw us one of those (awesome) muggy days in October.
Either way, I'm always ready for fall because it brings the opportunity to once again cook up some soup. To me, soup is the ultimate building of flavors — from the soffritto at the beginning to that swig of olive oil in each bowl at the end.
The recipe for this hearty soup is one I adapted from "Zuppe: Soups from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome" — which is a wonderful (almost pocket-sized) hardcover of soups created by chef Mona Talbott in partnership with the Rome Sustainable Food Project. The original recipe doesn't call for farro, but I find that the soup feels more complete with the addition of a healthy grain.
Minestra di Fagioli Gialli, Cavolo Nero e Pomodoro
500 g/1 lb cannellini beans
2-4 sprigs of rosemary
1 large bay leaf
4 cloves of garlic
150 ml/5 fl oz olive oil
2 medium onions
2 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
250 ml/4 oz crushed tomatoes
1 bunch Tuscan (lacinato) kale
1 cup farro
Dried chili flakes
Soak beans for 6-8 hours or overnight, or boil with bay leaf until almost tender.
Finely dice onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sweat in 2 fl oz of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until almost tender. Season with salt and dried chili flakes. Add crushed tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the cooked beans and rosemary, and cover with about 5 quarts of water. Gently bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.
Rinse and de-stem the kale (I usually slide my fingers upward along the stem from bottom to top). In a separate pot, bring 5 quarts of water to boil and season with salt. Add the kale and boil for 3-5 minutes, making sure to not overcook the leaves. Drain and allow the kale to cool before giving it a rough chop. (Tip: if the soup needs more water, the liquid from the the kale pot is a good addition.)
In a third pot, cook farro according to package instructions. Drain and add to soup along with the chopped kale.
Once all ingredients are combined, simmer for another 5 minutes over low heat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve with freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of good olive oil.
Photo: Flickr / mealmakeovermoms