This Tuscan farro soup is the perfect combination of whole grains, plant-based protein, and fiber-rich vegetables. Inspired by the flavors of Tuscany and a traditional farro soup, this hearty soup feels like a warm hug on a cold day and can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a piece of crusty bread for healthy lunch or dinner.
What is farro?
Farro is an ancient whole grain with a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. Farro, which is part of the wheat family, has been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Italy, commonly used in risottos (farrotto), soups (zuppa di farro), stews, salads, and desserts. This small brown grain is rich in fiber and is one of the highest protein whole grains. Cooked farro looks similar to barley and “pops” a little when chewed, similar to wheat berries.
Farro can be found in several different formats in grocery stores, including whole farro, semi-pearled farrow, and pearled farro.
- Whole farro is the whole grain format of farro, as it contains the germ, the bran, and the inner endosperm. It takes the longest to cook and is best soaked before cooking.
- Semi-pearled farro has no husk and part of the bran is polished away, giving it slightly fewer nutrients, a milder flavor, and a shorter cooking time.
- Pearled farro is the most common type of farro sold in the U.S. and has had its outer layer of bran removed. It contains slightly less fiber and nutrients but cooks the quickest.
Is farro good in soup?
Absolutely! Like many other whole grains, farro is great in soup, especially thicker soups as it contributes a chewy bite. In fact, farro is commonly used in soups in Tuscany and other regions of Italy.
If you’ve yet to cook with farro or add it to soup, I highly suggest that you give this Tuscan farro soup a try. Not only is it easy to make but it’s a hearty and healthy soup that is high in fiber and vegetarian protein, perfect for lunch or dinner on a cold day.
What You’ll Need
This Tuscan farro soup is predominately made with kitchen and pantry staples, here’s what you’ll need:
- Farro: The star of this farro soup recipe. I used pearled farrow, however, whole farro and semi-pearled farrow will also work.
- White Beans: To add a boost of vegetarian protein. I used dried cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, but any white beans will work.
- Onion, Carrot, and Celery: The classic base to any good soup.
- Garlic and Herbs: To add some flavor and fragrance. I used dried parsley and basil, but you could use fresh parsley and fresh basil if you prefer, just be sure to triple the amount. Dried or fresh rosemary and thyme would also work well.
- Red Pepper Flakes: To add a touch of heat, although they are optional.
- Diced Tomatoes: A classic Tuscan ingredient to thicken the soup.
- Kale: To add some leafy greens and boost the fiber content. If you’re not a fan of kale you can use baby spinach.
- Olive Oil: To cook the veggies and add some healthy fats.
- Broth: Feel free to use vegetable broth or chicken broth.
- Parmesan Cheese: To help flavor and season the soup.
In addition to the above, you’ll also need some salt and pepper to season the soup.
The Key to the BEST Farro Soup: Parmesan Cheese Rind
While it may sound odd, the waxy outer rind of parmesan cheese is your secret weapon to an awesome farro soup. The rind won’t break down entirely, but it will soften and infuse the soup with a powerful umami flavor and thicken the soup at the same time. So, the next time you finish a block of parmesan cheese, save the rind, store it in the freezer in a container or bag, and then pop it into your next pot of soup for an incredible boost of flavor.
To Make it Gluten-Free: While farro is the star ingredient in this recipe, if you want a gluten-free substitute, you can use sorghum or brown rice instead.
To Make it Dairy-Free: Omit the parmesan cheese rind.
To Make it Vegan: Use vegetable broth and omit the parmesan cheese rind.
How to Make Tuscan Farro Soup
This hearty Tuscan-inspired soup is easy to make and made in one pot! Whether you’re making it as a meal prep idea on the weekend or a simple weeknight meal, here’s what you’ll do:
- Sauté the vegetables. Begin by sautéing the vegetables in olive oil until tender.
- Add the herbs. Once the veggies are cooked, add the dried herbs and a large pinch of salt.
- Add the farro and beans. Once the herbs are fragrant, add the farro and beans and stir to coat them in the veggie mixture.
- Add the liquids. Add the tomatoes and cover everything with broth.
- Cook the soup. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 1 hour until the farro and beans are tender.
- Season and serve. Once the soup is ready, remove the rind, give the soup a taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, and serve as is or with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Red’s Nutrition Tip
Farro is a whole grain and is, therefore, primarily a source of complex carbohydrates with fiber and moderate levels of protein. By pairing farrow with white beans, another source of plant-based protein, you can increase the overall protein content of the soup and boost the fiber content at the same time.
What to Serve with Tuscan Farro Soup
Complete with complex carbohydrates, plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats, this Tuscan farro soup is quite well-balanced on its own and doesn’t need much to go with it. With that said, you could make it a bit more filling by adding a bit more protein, healthy fats, and fiber. For instance, you could serve the soup with bread and hummus, crackers and cheese, focaccia and deli meat, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a small chicken or tuna salad sandwich.
Storage + Reheating
To Store: Allow the soup to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To Freeze: Once the soup has cooled, transfer it to one large or individual portioned, freezer-safe, airtight container(s) in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To Reheat: Reheat the soup in a pot on the stovetop on medium heat for 5 minutes or until warm, or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. If using frozen leftovers, allow the soup to thaw completely before reheating.
More Italian Soup Recipes:Print
Tuscan Farro Soup
Packed full of whole grains and vegetables, this Tuscan farro soup recipe is a hearty and healthy vegetarian meal. You can whip up this one-pot soup as a weeknight meal or weekend meal prep idea.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Tuscan
- 1 cup farro, dry
- 1 cup white beans, dry, soaked for several hours or overnight
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 6 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 1 rind parmesan cheese
- 2 cups kale, finely chopped
- Before making the soup, soak the beans. Place the dry white beans in a medium bowl, cover with cold water by 2 inches, and let them soak for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. Drain and rinse them before adding them to the soup.
- Before getting started, rinse the farro. Place the farro in a fine-mesh strainer, rinse thoroughly under cold water, moving it around with your hand to ensure it’s all well rinsed, then drain off the excess water, and set aside.
- In a large pot on medium-high heat, warm the olive oil, then add onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4-5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.
- Add dried parsley, dried basil, chili flakes, and salt, and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the rinsed farro and soaked and strained white beans, and stir to coat with the vegetable mixture. Then add diced tomatoes, broth, and parmesan cheese rind, and stir until well combined.
- Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer and cook for 1 hour or until the farro and beans are tender.
- Once the farro and beans are tender, add chopped kale, stir to combine, and cook for additional 5-10 minutes until the kale has wilted into the soup and is bright green in color.
- Once the soup is cooked, remove and discard the parmesan cheese rind. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper needed.
- The soup can be served immediately or cooled and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 304 calories
- Fat: 6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 51 grams
- Fiber: 9 grams
- Protein: 15 grams