Farro is a trendy grain that goes by many names . . . spelt, farro, emmer to name but three. I think the fact that it has become quite trendy south of the border is the reason it has become more challenging to find here in Canada! ARGH
This is a shame because farro is a nutty, slightly sweet, pleasingly chewy grain that has many uses in the kitchen. This summer when I was in Bologna I was wandering the aisle of a COOP (grocery store) near our hotel when I spied bags of organic farro for 1.65 euro. That was about $ 2.25 for a 2 lb bag! When I can find it here it is usually about $ 15 a pound.
I grabbed two bags and tucked them into my suitcase to bring home.
This is why my luggage is ALWAYS overweight!
I stuck the farro into the pantry until it happened to fall at my feet a few weeks ago - note to self, it may be time to clean out the pantry.
At the same time Paolo cleaned out the fruit cellar and found the porcini mushrooms that I have brought home over the years.
We had enough to last a year of eating risotto.
Something had to be done. With the cold weather I started to search for a mushroom farro soup and found this recipe on the Smitten Kitchen site.
I was sold.
The only change I made was to actually use the sherry cream that she spoke about as a possible change for the future. I mixed some sherry in some heavy cream with fresh thyme leaves. The result was amazing! This was one of the best soups I have had in years!
Mushroom Farro Soup
Adapted from Marian Burros’ mama, via The New York Times
1/3 cup dried mushrooms like porcini
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms (white, cremini, shiitake or a mixture thereof; I used 100% brown/creminis)
1/2 cup farro, pearled barley, or spelt, rinsed
6 cups low sodium or salt-free beef broth or stock (vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock can be swapped)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water, and set aside for 20 minutes, or while you prepare the rest of the soup. Trim and slice mushrooms, then give them a rough chop to your desired texture.
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed deep pot. Sauté onions and carrots over medium heat until onions begin to color, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, and cook until they begin to release liquid, about 5 to 10 minutes. Raise heat and add barley; sauté until it begins to color (this didn’t really happen for me, because the mushroom liquid was still sloshing about). Add broth, sherry and tomato paste. Drain porcinis and finely chop; strain mushroom-soaking liquid to remove any grit and add to pot along with the reconstituted mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until barley is tender. Stir in sherry vinegar; adjust seasonings and serve.