Quick and easy, hearty and warm, Bean &Farro Soup with Bacon is the perfect Sunday afternoon winter soup to fuel up and get cozy.
Meat No Longer Needs to Be Center Stage
When I started becoming more aware of what we were spending on our food budget, I realized eating more plant forward recipes would save money in the pocketbook. You can check out my post on Eating Real, Organic Food without Breaking the Bank to find out more. Truthfully, I was a little nervous about giving up my meat. That is until I started exploring the vast amounts of things you can prepare with fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, and legumes. It’s funny what we believe just because we grew up that way. I grew up believing that meat was the center of the plate, the star attraction. Well it doesn’t have to be. Additionally, you don’t even have to include it at all in a meal and you will still get your nutritional needs met.
Now I realize that in my Bean & Farro Soup I have included bacon. Truthfully, it is not necessary, but I thought I would demonstrate how meat can be used as a compliment or side, rather than the star of a meal. Ultimately, you could prepare this completely plant based and have a wonderful meal for a plant centered meal night. Check out my post on Seasonal Meal Planning with a Menu Board to find out more about organizing your meals into a seasonal meal plan.
What I love About Bean & Farro Soup with Bacon
I love this soup. Not only is it quick and easy if you have beans prepared and remember to soak your farro the night before, but it is nourishing and filling too. Literally, you can pull it together in a matter of minutes and have a warm bowl of cozy soup served along side some crusty home baked bread slathered in butter. I love the contrast of the smoky bacon with the sweet cranberry beans and the chewy farro grain. Knowing I am nourishing my body with homemade chicken bone broth also makes me feel good about what I serve my family. Soup is a regular on our table. Filling, inexpensive, and nourishing is a winning combination for a big family or a full house.
The Recipe for Bean & Farro Soup with Bacon
- 1 bouquet Garni tied together with kitchen twine ( 3 sprigs each parsley, sage, rosemary, & thyme- just like the song...oh and a bay leaf, but that wasn't in the song.)
- 3 T olive oil
- 4 oz bacon (chopped) or more if you like to snag a piece or two or three while you cook.
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 carrots, scrubbed and diced
- 4 celery ribs, scrubbed and diced
- 3 golden potatoes, scrubbed and diced
- 4 garlic cloves chopped (about 1 T already chopped garlic)
- 1 (18.3 oz) jar of diced tomatoes (I prefer Jovial diced tomatoes)
- 8 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
- 2 cups Borlotti (cranberry) beans (soaked, cooked, and drained) or 2 (13 oz) jars Jovial Borlotti beans, drained
- 3/4 cup farro (soaked and drained)
- 1 bunch chiffonade of basil (thinly sliced)
The night before or early in the morning, soak your farro (see note). It will need to soak for at least 8 hours, but overnight is best.
In kitchen twine, tie together the sprigs of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and set aside. This is your bouquet Garni.
Heat 3 T olive oil to a heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat.
Add 4 ounces (1/2 package) sliced bacon and fry up until crispy and fat is rendered (about 5 minutes). Set aside.
In the bacon fat, sauté the chopped onion, carrot, celery, potato, and garlic for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and fragrant. If you want to remove some of the rendered fat at this time, feel free. Otherwise...
Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, bouquet Garni bundle, and soaked farro and cook uncovered on medium low until farro is cooked through and tender.
Add the bacon back into the soup for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Before serving, remove bouquet Garni and add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle out into bowls, garnish with basil chiffanade, Parmesan cheese, and serve with warm sourdough bread slathered in butter. Yummy!
Borlotti or Cranberry Beans
Borlotti beans, or Cranberry beans, are about the prettiest beans you will find. Found mostly in Italian and Portuguese cooking, they get their name from their beautiful color. These totally nutrient-dense beans are loaded with iron, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and of course, protein. If I am in a pinch for time, I will pull out the Jovial Borlotti Beans. They are prepared the traditional way of soaking and pressure cooking.
Alternatively, preparing the beans your self will save a pretty penny. Check out Wendy’s post from the blog Around My Family Table to learn how to prepare cranberry beans either on the stove top, Instant Pot, or Slow Cooker. Usually, I prepare mine in an Instant Pot and add a little salt, pepper, and a bay leaf to her recipe. Beans freeze well and are super easy to make if you have an Instant Pot. It literally takes 45 minutes and you have perfect beans to use and some to store away for another time.
What is Farro?
Farro is the newest grain in my whole-grain arsenal. Ancient grains are coming back in fashion and for good reason. Farro has a wonderfully nutty flavor and chewy taste. Besides being versatile, like rice, it is packed with nutrients, protein, dietary fiber, and magnesium. A lot more bang for your buck. Plus it tastes amazing in soups, salads, as well as sides.
SOAKING GRAINS FOR BETTER DIGESTION AND NUTRIENT ABSORPTION
Grains and legumes are not easily digested. They contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that will need a neutralizer in order to break down the complex proteins and sugars before cooking. Phytic acid is a plant’s natural protection against predators. Although it is great for plants, it blocks nutrient absorption in humans. Pre-soaking also unlocks nutrients and makes them more available to the body. Think of it like a predigesting of your food so that nutrients can easily be absorbed and assimilated into the body. The less strain food has on the body, the more easily digestion occurs. Health is all about the digestion.
Below is a list of common neutralizes you can use with grains and legumes. If you are interested in learning more about how to properly prepare whole grains and legumes, I HIGHLY recommend purchasing this Preparing Whole Grains & Legumes chart. I have had this chart on the side of my refrigerator for over 10 years. It has been a highly useful tool in my kitchen.
- whole milk yogurt
- lemon juice
- apple cider vinegar
Note: When using one of the dairy options above, you will also get the added benefit of lactobacilli, a probiotic, which will also help digest complex proteins and sugars.
MAKE WAY FOR WHEY (WHAT IS IT AND HOW DO I PREPARE IT?)
Whey is the liquid remaining after milk is curdled and cultured. You have probably seen this liquid form at the top of your yogurt after scooping some out. To separate the whey from yogurt, I use a Greek yogurt maker. This is the super easy cheaters method. Sorry, I love useful kitchen gadgets that multiply my time. I also prefer to eat a thicker yogurt.
To prepare, I purchase regular plain yogurt, dump it in my Greek yogurt maker filter basket, and let gravity work for me in only a few hours. One quart of plain grass-fed yogurt produces about 1/2 cup of whey. I also use whey in my Beet Kvass recipe if you are looking for another way to use whey (sorry I couldn’t help myself). You can watch a YouTube video from The Healthy Home Economist on how to separate whey from store-bought yogurt here if you don’t have a Greek yogurt maker.
Don’t you just love the name bouquet Garni? It literally means bouquet of herbs. Bouquets of herbs are one of my favorite things. In fact, I love to cut fresh bouquets of herbs from my garden and place them in little white pitchers all over the house in the summer. This is a little different than that. Usually, these bouquets are tied together using kitchen twine and simmered in with the soup. However, they are removed just before serving.
Bean & Farro Soup with Bacon
I hope you enJOY this soup as much as we do. Soup and bouquets of herbs are just about two of my happiest thoughts…I have many. But there is nothing that says comfort and cozy like a bowl of nourishing soup, especially when served alongside some homemade crusty bread. I am still working on mastering that one. Blessings Friends.