If I were trying to romance you in this bone-chilling weather, I'd make you this soup.
I'd forgo my usual frugal, utilitarian recipes in the name of love.
I'd eschew my vegetarian proclivity with an outlay of sausage.
I'd take the time to toast the farro in the pork's delectable drippings so that each chewy grain would get richly imbued.
I'd fastidiously pulse the aromatics in the food processor so that they would melt--ever-so-demurely--into the broth, allowing for no discord over fennel's dichotomizing flavor.
I'd remember to caramelize the tomato paste and then would recall, just in time to impress you, that the French term for doing so is pinçage.
I'd add a little heat.
I'd surrender two of my treasured Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds in an act of umami-driven devotion.
I'd hide the bean can from you so that you'd think that I soaked them overnight just for you.
I'd tuck in enough kale to benefit your health, but not so much that it would taste punishing.
I'd graciously anoint two steaming bowls with a swirl of olive oil and a flurry of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Then, just as we'd clink glasses filled with this, my dad would call in from the other room to ask when the dog last did her business and things would turn really awkward, really fast.
So here's the recipe: Just add romance.
Toasted Farro Soup with Sausage, Fennel, Kale, and Cannellini
- 3 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 1 small bulb fennel, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 medium sweet or yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 3/4 pound good quality pork sausage, casings removed
- 1 cup farro, rinsed
- chef's measure of salt and freshly-ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2-tsp. crushed red pepper
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 1-2 Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
- 1 bunch kale, torn into small pieces
- 1-1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Working in batches, pulse the carrots, celery, fennel, onion, and garlic in a food processor.
Add half of the olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces. Once nearly browned through, add farro to toast with the sausage in its drippings. Wipe the drippings from your mouth.
When the farro looks darker and smells fragrant (about 3 minutes), add the finely chopped vegetables along with that professionally-inspired measure of salt and pepper. Cook vegetables until soft-ish, about 5 to 7 minutes, before adding the tomato paste and red pepper, stirring until all is tinged brick-red and smells like something you might want to ravage.
Pour the chicken stock into the pot, using a wooden scraper to cajole any dogged bits off the bottom. Slip your cheese rinds into the soup and drum the counter impatiently while you wait for the watched pot to boil. Drop the heat to low and simmer, covered, until farro is al dente, about 25 minutes.
Pluck out, gnaw on, and then discard the cheese rinds before folding in the kale in two batches (lest it becomes unruly) and the beans.
Serve with a lavish amount of olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and, if you are so inclined, a fettunta--that naughty-sounding Tuscan word for a garlic-rubbed, olive-oil slicked piece of toasted bread.