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Creamy Farro and Chickpea Soup

Adapted from Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert

Time: 2 hours, plus overnight soaking for farro and chickpeas

3/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 imported bay leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped prosciutto
1 tablespoon minced celery
3/4 cup farro or hulled barley, rinsed, then soaked in water overnight
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
  Kosher salt
  Freshly ground black pepper
  Freshly chopped flatleaf parsley, for garnish.

1. Drain chickpeas, and place in a medium earthenware pan or saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water, and bring to a boil. Add sea salt and bay leaves. Reduce heat, and cook, covered, until very soft, about 1 1/2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and gently cook onion, prosciutto and celery for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not brown. Drain farro, and add it along with the chicken broth, marjoram and nutmeg to the onion mixture. Cook, partially covered, for about 1 hour.

3. Drain chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard bay leaves. In a food processor, puree chickpeas with 1 cup of the reserved liquid. Add pureed chickpeas to the farro mixture; if necessary, add more of the cooking liquid from the chickpeas to achieve the consistency of a creamy soup. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Wait 10 minutes before serving, and sprinkle each portion with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.

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©1999—2006 Paula Wolfert