Toasted Farro Stew with Kale

and Roasted Butternut Squash

roasted squash.jpg

the key to this dish is the parmesan – not just the grated cheese, but also the rind.  Adding it to the pot as the soup simmers infuses it with Parmesan’s distinctive nutty undertones, which pair well with farro.  For a bright finish, I swirl a spoonful of pesto in after the soup has finished cooking.

 Makes about 3 quarts/ Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

3/4 cup farro (substitute: barley)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

10 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

Rind of Parmesan cheese

1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese

Basil Pesto or extra-virgin olive oil

Rustic Toast with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

 1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until sizzling hot. Add the onion and farro and season with salt and black pepper. Cook and stir until the onion is soft and translucent and the farro is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the butternut squash, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes longer. Add the garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.

3. Add the broth and rind, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro and squash are tender but slightly chewy, about 40 minutes.

4. Add the kale and cook, stirring, just until the kale is wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve warm with a few shards of shaved Parmesan and a swirl of Basil Pesto or a drizzle of olive oil on each serving, and with Rustic Toast with Olive Oil and Sea Salt on the side.

SUBSTITUTIONS  In the summer, I make this with fresh tomatoes instead of butternut squash or with navy and cannellini beans.  It is also good with the addition of fennel, cabbage or bok choy, or with collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach or freshly shelled fava beans in place of kale.  Feel free to improvise, making use of what’s available or in season.


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