¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound Italian sausage, removed from the casing and broken into small pieces
12 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped (I like to use a mixture of cremini, shiitake and oyster)
1 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
3 cups beef broth
3 cups mushroom broth *See note below
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed and soaked 8 hours or overnight
1 small head (about ½ pound) escarole, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until sausage is browned and mushrooms have released all of their liquid. Add wine and let it simmer for a couple minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in broth, tomatoes, red pepper and farro. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until farro is tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Add escarole and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Simmer one minute longer to allow greens to wilt. Ladle soup into bowls and serve, with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of cheese sprinkled over the top.
* If you can't find mushroom broth, soak 1 ounce of dried mushrooms in 3 cups of hot vegetable stock; drain through a paper towel-lined strainer to catch any grit.
Serves 4 to 6
Farro soup is found all around Lucca in northern Tuscany, and is sure to keep your tummy nourished in the upcoming chilly months. Farro can easily be substituted with the more readily available spelt or barley, with which soaking is not necessary. To turn this soup super-Tuscan, use cavolo nero (dinosaur kale) in place of the escarole and fresh porcini mushrooms.