Farro Soup with Kale (Zuppa di Farro col Cavolo Nero)

1 cup farro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 can cannellini beans (optional)
1 lb ground pork
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 Parmesan rind
2 bunches kale - green or black
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add pork and break up. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onion is lightly browned, a few minutes more. Add 4 cups of water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the farro, Parmesan rind, thyme, tomatoes, and salt. Return to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the kale: Discard a few inches of the tough root ends. Thinly slice the stems and coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse well by dunking it in a large bowl or sink full of water. Drain well.

When the farro has simmered for 10 minutes, stir in the kale and the beans if using. Cover and continue cooking until the beans, farro, and kale are tender, usually 30 additional minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the basil, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 6 servings.


This dish is meant to be made with black kale (cavolo negro) which you can buy in specialty Italian shops but I find it works just fine with green kale. Serve with some crusty bread.

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