I sort of like this time of year when the evenings are cooler. It means it is time to start eating soup again.
Very soon, you will be able to buy fresh roasted chestnuts everywhere. In Ottawa, they sell them at La Bottega Nicastro in the market area. Year-round, you can use canned chestnuts or those stored in an air-tight container. Chestnuts and farro are usually available in gourmet food stores or health food stores. You can soak the farro overnight and it will cook in no time at all.
This filling, nutritious and healthy soup is one of my new favorites. I hope you will enjoy.
Zuppa di farro e castagne
3 tablespoons olive oil
50 g pancetta slices, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, whole
100 g farro (spelt), washed several times in cold water
100 g chestnuts, coarsely chopped
1.5 liter broth, chicken or vegetable
1 bouquet garni (leek, 3 sprigs parsley, celery and one sprig rosemary)
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese, for serving
1. In a stockpot, cook the pancetta and garlic over medium-low heat for 3 or 4 minutes, until the garlic clove is golden and the pancetta is somewhat crispy.
2. Cut the leek in half and remove the inner layers to make room for the filling. Fill the leek with the celery, parsley and rosemary sprig and tie it together with kitchen string or even better, put all these ingredients in a cheesecloth and secure it with a string.
3. Add the broth, farro, chestnuts and bouquet garni to the stockpot and simmer over low heat, covered, until the farro is cooked, about 30 to 40 minutes.
4. Remove the bouquet garni and the garlic clove and discard. Adjust seasonings and serve with parmesan at the table.
Adapted from Il grande libro della vera cucina Toscana, from Paolo Petroni.