Cooking in the Comfort of My Own Kitchen

I absolutely adore my friend Sara and her creative abilities in the kitchen. She's always such an inspiration to me and the other night while visiting with her at her apartment, she showed me how to make a new delicious soup, (something I've been wanting to try on my own because I love the comfort warm soup brings during the cold winter months). I've never had the proper tools to puree, something most soups require, and therefore, have always skipped over all of the soup recipes that cookbooks, magazines and online sites often provide.

A hearty stew or soup is the perfect meal after a busy day. It can be warmed up and ready to eat in a matter of minutes, and it can be frozen easily so cooking for one is practical or can be stored in the fridge for several days. It also makes for a great meal when you're hosting a larger group, as most soup recipes will yield several servings.

If you're searching for a new soup recipe, why not give this Tuscan farro and bean soup a try? It's both hearty and healthy!

Tuscan Farro and Bean Soup
1 cup dried borlotti or cranberry beans
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
10 cups water
1 large tomato (1/2 lb), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed, fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
10 fresh sage leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup whole-grain farro
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Pick over and rinse beans. Soak in cold water to cover by two inches at least eight hours and up to 12 hours. Alternatively, you can quick-soak the beans (a method in which the beans sit submerged in water for an hour or two instead of eight or 12) . Make sure to drain well.

Heat oil in a five to six-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until it's hot but not smoking. Next, cook the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened (after about 10 minutes). Stir in water, drained beans, tomato, parsley, sage, and thyme and bring to a boil; then reduce heat and cook partially covered at a simmer. Stir occasionally (add more water if necessary to keep beans covered) until the beans are tender, anywhere from two to three hours.

Discard thyme sprigs, then blend mixture in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a large bowl. Return soup to pot and bring to a boil. Add farro and salt, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the farro is tender (it will be chewy, like barley) for about 30 minutes. Stir in pepper and serve drizzled with additional oil.

Notes: Sara used borlotti beans but you could use any number of different beans. Also, she used barley the second time she made it because she ran out of farro from the first time she made the recipe. Both times she put in kale at the end when she added the grain.

Additionally, if you're like me and don't own the proper tools to make homemade soups, I recommend picking up an Immersion Blender and a Stainless Skimmer.
Signing Off Comforted in My Own Kitchen,

Renee

Renee Woodruff blogs about travel, food and living life to the fullest on Shape.com. Follow her on Twitter or see what she's up to on Facebook!

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